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Settlement in San Jose State University Sexual Harassment Scandal

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | Firm News

Students’ Stories of Sexual Abuse

Reports of sexual harassment and assault of student athletes at San Jose State University (“San Jose State”) date all the way back to 2009. According to federal prosecutors, female swimmers complained that during treatment in the campus training facilities the Director of Sports Medicine – Scott Shaw – sexually touched their breasts, pubic areas, and buttocks against their will.

School’s Sweeping of the Scandal and Silencing of Students’ Supporters 

At the time, the university launched an internal investigation, but allegedly swept the situation under the rug quickly by concluding that Shaw was simply conducting legitimate therapy. Shaw was given the continued opportunity to harass student-athletes and allegedly did so. Victims continued to come forward, and it became blatantly clear that the university was ignoring these prevalent issues according to the victims. According to one report, Shaw harassed a student-athlete as late as February 2020.

The University also appears to have retaliated against two former employees who spoke up against Mr. Shaw’s behavior. One employee, Coach Hopkins, received poor performance evaluations after he complained to the university administration via email regarding Shaw’s inappropriate behavior.

The Situation is Taken Seriously  

Once Coach Hopkins brought his complaints to the attention of the NCAA and other groups outside of the university, a second university investigation was launched in 2019, which reversed the findings of the original investigation.

On September 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report highlighting the University’s failure in properly addressing the complaints of sexual abuse and retaliation against employees who spoke out against Shaw’s behavior.

The Settlement

An agreement was reached on September 21 between the university, the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. Although the investigations involved 23 athletes from the university who were physically violated by Shaw, only 13 of them have accepted an amount of $125,000 each.  The settlement also demands that the university implement major reforms to address sexual harassment complaints, strengthen its Title IX office, support those impacted by Shaw’s inappropriate behavior, and prevent retaliation against those who choose to speak out about sexual harassment in the institution.

Suffering? Speak to Our Skilled Attorneys

If you are currently suffering from sexual harassment, the experienced attorneys at Makarem & Associates are here for you. The road to recovery starts with holding the abuser accountable in a court of law. Let us help you in your journey and get you the outcome you deserve. Call us for a free consultation: (310)312-0299.


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