The longtime director of sports medicine at San Jose State University, who resigned in August after reporting sexually abusing female athletes more than a decade ago, has been found responsible for at least five of these allegations of women in a series of Title IX state investigations.
The investigations, conducted by private attorneys under the supervision of the California State University System, determined that Scott Shaw’s physiotherapy treatments lacked medical merit, ignored proper protocols, and violated system sexual harassment policies.
The findings were published Friday morning in separate letters to the women. There were at least 10 investigations in all – one for each complainant – all of which could have reached different conclusions. Shounak Dharap, a lawyer who represents some of the athletes, told USA TODAY on Friday that he was aware of at least five of them that had led to liability findings, adding that he expected to do so. receive more.
Several athletes clashed after receiving the news.
“There was an overwhelming sense of relief,” said former swimmer Linzy Warkentin, one of five athletes, who first reported Shaw’s driving to school in 2009. “We had some problems. tears and laughter. Tonight there will be party drinks. We have been waiting for this for over a year and finally we are officially recognized. “
In April, USA TODAY first went public with the allegations against Shaw. Reporters interviewed four of the 17 swimming and diving athletes who in 2009 said Shaw improperly touched them, as well as a water polo athlete and a gymnastics athlete who competed around this time and described similar touching from Shaw.
The university had reviewed the swimmers’ claims in 2010, but cleared Shaw of any wrongdoing, claiming that his treatments – which he described to athletes as “pressure point” or “trigger point” therapy – were a scientific and accepted method of treatment for muscle injuries.
Shaw was never sanctioned, arrested or charged, and he remained in his position as director of sports medicine for the next 10 years, during which time he continued to treat female athletes.
The CSU System began its investigation in December 2019, after SJSU women’s swimming coach Sage Hopkins again reported the allegations.
In addition to questioning many former athletes, state investigators heard testimony from two current Spartans who described Shaw’s inappropriate touching.
One of the current athletes told investigators Shaw in 2017 massaged her breasts, without explanation, under the guise of “pressure point therapy.” Another said Shaw grazed his chest and placed his hands on his butt on different occasions in late 2019 and early 2020. Both said Shaw’s treatments were different from what they were having. received from other SJSU sports coaches. Their claims are similar to those made by swimmers ten years ago.
Shaw arrived in San Jose State in 2006 and took over as the Director of Sports Medicine in 2008, a position he held until his departure in August. In April, the state of San Jose told USA TODAY that it had not received any new complaints against Shaw since 2009.
Testimony from current athletes shows that Shaw’s inappropriate treatment continued long after the university’s internal investigation in 2010.
In a statement to USA TODAY, San Jose state spokeswoman Christine Hutchins said the university will review the findings, which it says are not yet final until the appeal process is completed. is not finished. In the meantime, she said, the university is contacting those involved in the investigation to provide them with support services and help them obtain resources.
SJSU President Mary, “Papazian and the University remain steadfast in their commitment to providing a safe learning environment dedicated to the success of its students and will continue to take appropriate and necessary action,” Hutchins said in the press release.
Shaw declined to participate in the CSU investigation, according to records. He had previously denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer, Lori Costanzo, who had not responded to an email seeking comment. Shaw has 10 business days to appeal the result.
James Borchers, physician and president of the US Council for Athletes Health who served as an expert witness in the investigation, determined Shaw’s treatments were “inappropriate” and “questionable in the most conservative way,” according to a copy of the report. on preliminary findings. from November obtained by USA TODAY. Borchers added that they “raise a significant suspicion of inappropriate behavior”.
According to Borchers’ testimony, Shaw ignored normal procedures by failing to properly explain, justify, document and obtain informed consent for his treatments, which he performed without offering an attendant and without supervision, certification and appropriate training. In addition, Borchers said that massaging the breast and groin area is generally inappropriate in the absence of clear medical circumstances requiring such contact, and that it is “not ethical to touch under clothing. in a sensitive area in any situation ”.
“In conclusion, there is no reasonable evidence or explanation for the actions of the athletic trainer described in this report,” Borchers wrote in a four-page analysis. “The treatments, athletic coach behavior and consistent patterns associated with both as described by the student-athletes are unethical and disturbing to say the least.”
The coach never gave up
For many athletes, the decision has been overdue for more than a decade.
Seventeen athletes reported Shaw’s conduct to their coach at the end of 2009, according to the records, when they were members of the San Jose State Women’s Swim and Diving Team and Shaw was there. head coach of the team.
Records obtained by USA TODAY show their coach, Hopkins, gathered 17 swimmers’ accounts of inappropriate contact and reported them to officials at the San Jose State Sports Department, the broader administration and the police. of campus.
One of the former swimmers who testified against Shaw was underage – 17 – when she said Shaw first touched her inappropriately in 2009. Hopkins then filed a child abuse report. alleged by Shaw, but no action appears to have been taken. in response.
Although the university has rid Shaw of his wrongdoing, Hopkins has never stopped expressing his concerns. He complained regularly to campus officials and tried to keep his athletes away from Shaw, who still sometimes treated them without Hopkins’ knowledge, according to records.
The SJSU reopened a second investigation into Shaw in December 2019, after Hopkins circulated a nearly 300-page document among officials at the University, Mountain West, and the NCAA that detailed the allegations, the response from the ‘school and his allegations of retaliation against him and his team for reporting and re-reporting them.
The fact that Shaw was ultimately held responsible is “a good step in the right direction,” said Caitlin Macky, one of the former swimmers who reported Shaw in 2009, while noting that there had been “a lot too many victims along the way ”.
“I am so grateful for Sage Hopkins and his persistence in standing up for all student athletes, not just his own,” Macky told USA TODAY. “And I think he deserves an immediate apology from the university.”
Fallout and more surveys
In August, Shaw wrote in an email to members of the sports department, which USA TODAY obtained, saying he was retiring and planned to drop out of school later that month. The State of San Jose quietly removed his name from the staff directory and, in response to questions from USA TODAY, said Shaw had resigned.
A month later, a former sports department official filed a notice of tort claim with the CSU system, alleging that sports department administrators had engaged in a tendency to cover up the misconduct of staff and officials. SJSU students and to take revenge on those who reported it.
Steve O’Brien, who was No.2 in the sports department, said in the statement he was fired in March because he resisted orders from sports director Marie Tuite to discipline Hopkins and another employee. O’Brien believed the orders against Hopkins were in retaliation for his re-reporting the allegations, which led to the investigation into Shaw being reopened. Hopkins has also accused Tuite of downplaying and helping cover up the allegations over the years.
Last month, a separate CSU system investigation concluded that Tuite was responsible for retaliation against Hopkins by ordering his supervisor to give him a low grade on his 2020 performance review because of his report on the allegations to outside entities. , according to a copy of the notice of inquiry. released by CSU System on January 15 and obtained by USA TODAY.
Tuite has the option of appealing the finding. She did not return a phone message on Friday asking for comment.
The US Department of Justice’s civil rights division is also investigating the university’s handling of the allegations in 2010, four people who spoke to investigators told USA TODAY. People have described the topics they discussed on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing an ongoing legal case. Sportico first reported the existence of the investigation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also launched a criminal investigation into Shaw’s conduct, confirmed two people who spoke to investigators. They spoke to USA TODAY anonymously for the same reasons. The FBI press office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.