State of San Jose botched investigation of wrongdoing claims, report findings

State of San Jose botched investigation of wrongdoing claims, report findings

  • US News
  • December 3, 2022
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According to a report released this week, San Jose State University and its police department have failed to adequately respond to or investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against its former head athletic coach, Scott Shaw.

The four-page report by the California State University Chancellery concluded that the investigation into the 2009-10 complaints against Shaw was inadequate and that the campus police department failed to properly respond to reports filed against him by two student-athletes in 2009.

In December 2009, several female athletes reported that Shaw had touched their breasts, groin, buttocks or pubic areas during what was described to them as “trigger point therapy” or “pressure point therapy,” according to a report published last year by the US Department of Justice.

Federal prosecutors earlier this year charged Shaw with six counts of violating athletes’ civil rights by allegedly touching their breasts and buttocks without their consent between 2017 and 2020. Shaw pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied any wrongdoing. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

In 2021, the university agreed to pay more than a dozen female athletes $1.6 million as part of a settlement with the Justice Department, which found it failed to properly handle the students’ allegations.

“The university leadership will take the time to fully evaluate the report and consider any areas where further improvements may be needed,” the university said in a statement in response to the report. “We remain grateful to the student athletes and others who have shared their painful stories and the work of various parties to advance information.”

The investigator in the 2009-10 investigation was provided statements and contact information from 27 student-athletes, 17 of whom said they “experienced questionable behavior at the hands of Shaw,” according to the review. But the investigator interviewed only 14 of the athletes, according to the report, and listed only one athlete as a complainant.

The athletes said interviews during the investigation “did not focus on their allegations, but on the validity of Shaw’s pressure point therapy,” according to the report.

“The final investigative report fell short on two pages given the seriousness of the allegations … and contained little to no discussion or analysis of the allegations,” the review noted.

The results of the 2009-10 investigation were communicated to Shaw, who was “allowed to remain in his position with little to no restrictions,” while the students knew nothing of the outcome until an athletic department worker informed them that Shaw had been exonerated and his therapy was deemed “adequate,” the report said.

The athletes said they experienced “feelings of anger, frustration and regret for coming forward, only to be sidelined and ignored,” the report said. “It is not surprising that the student-athletes did not attempt to re-report Shaw or take additional steps to hold Shaw accountable given the summary dismissal, which they believed SJSU had filed their serious grievances.”

The same athletic department official who briefed the athletes on the outcome of the investigation raised concerns with the university that the investigation was inadequate and that Shaw continued to have access to female athletes, the report said. The staffer asked the school’s Title IX office to reconsider the investigation, but the office ignored the request and did not follow up on those concerns, the review said.

In December 2009, other student-athletes on teams not supervised by Shaw also reported misconduct, but the university did not investigate those allegations, the report said.

A former San Jose State coach was also told by one of his athletes that they were inappropriately touched by Shaw, the review said. The coach confronted Shaw with the allegations and also informed his superior. Neither the supervisor nor the former coach have taken any further steps.

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