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San José State to Pay $1.6M to Victims of Sexual Assault

September 22, 2021

San José State University has agreed to pay a $1.6 million settlement to victims of a university athletic trainer who sexually assaulted female student athletes for over a decade, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

In its Title IX investigation, which began in June 2020, the Justice Department found that San José State failed for over a decade to respond to reports of sexual harassment and assault of female student athletes by Scott Shaw, the university’s director of sports medicine since 2008. The abuse began in 2009, when female student athletes reported that Shaw subjected them to “repeated, unwelcome sexual touching of their breasts, groins, buttocks, and/or pubic areas during treatment in the campus training facilities,” the Justice Department said. Additionally, the department found that the university retaliated against one employee who repeatedly alerted school officials to the threat Shaw posed. Another employee was terminated after expressing opposition to the retaliatory measures the university took against the reporting employee.

In addition to making financial awards to the victims, San José State will have to improve its process for responding to complaints of sexual harassment, “bolster the Title IX Office” by providing the Title IX coordinator with “adequate authority, independence, and resources,” and improve the sports medicine and athletics training program “to prevent sexual harassment by athletic trainers,” according to the university’s agreement with the Justice Department. The text of the agreement can be found here.

“No student should be subjected to sexual harassment at a college or university in our country, especially by an employee who wields a position of power,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “With this agreement, San José State University will provide relief to survivors and transform its Title IX process to ensure accountability in its athletics program and create a safer campus for all its students.”

In April 2020, USA Today reported that Shaw was being reinvestigated following an initial university probe that quietly cleared him of wrongdoing after 17 members of San José State’s women’s swimming and diving team spoke about his abuse of them. Shaw stepped down four months after the report, USA Today reported. In May this year, San José State president Mary Papazian apologized to athletes who said the university’s former athletic trainer sexually abused them.

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