San Jose State President Apologizes for Ex-Trainer's Conduct

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Twelve years after the first investigation into Scott Shaw, San Jose State University is apologizing for the former athletic trainer’s sexual misconduct.

University president Mary Papazian wrote a letter to the campus community Thursday, summing up the results of the school’s investigation into Shaw’s sexual misconduct.

“As many of you know, in December 2019, I requested an external investigation into allegations of misconduct in 2009 by Scott Shaw, SJSU’s former director of sports medicine,” Papazian wrote. “Today, I am sharing the results of that investigation with you. The 2009 allegations of improper touching during physical therapy were substantiated, as were more recent allegations raised in the course of the investigation. The investigator concluded that the conduct at issue violated the university’s policies in effect at the time of the conduct.

“To the affected student-athletes and their families, I apologize for this breach of trust. I am determined that we will learn from the past and never repeat it.

“Accountability, action, and transparency are critical to rebuilding trust in the face of troubling events like these. You have my promise that as we go through this difficult process and move forward together, we will hold ourselves accountable, make necessary changes, and consistently share our progress with the SJSU community.”

In February, a California State University System Title IX investigation found that Shaw, who resigned as San Jose State’s sports medicine director in August, was responsible for at least five cases of sexual abuse against female athletes.

Related content: Former SJS Sports Med Director Responsible for Abuse

As reported by USA Today, Shaw resigned amid reports he sexually abused female athletes between 2006 and 2008. There were at least 10 investigations in all — one for each complainant. The investigations, conducted by private attorneys under CSUS supervision, determined that Shaw’s physical therapy treatments lacked medical basis, ignored proper protocols and violated the system’s sexual harassment policies.

USA Today first went public with the allegations against Shaw in April 2020. Reporters interviewed four of the 17 swimming and diving athletes who in 2009 said Shaw touched them inappropriately, as well as a water polo athlete and a gymnastics athlete who competed around that time and described similar touching by Shaw.

A San Jose State investigation launched in 2009 and completed in 2010 cleared Shaw of wrongdoing, concluding “Trigger Point Therapy was a bona fide and accepted method of treatment.” However, San Jose State’s sports medicine policies no longer allow the treatment Shaw allegedly did without explicit consent and the presence of a chaperone. The investigation was restarted in 2018 after swim coach Sage Hopkins sent a 300-page file of student-athletes’ accounts to the San Jose State Title IX office.

Related content: San Jose State Athletic Trainer Resigns Amid Claims

Papazian’s letter announced that a new investigation has been launched “to determine the adequacy of the 2009 investigation and whether the university properly responded to subsequent concerns about that original investigation.

“We all need answers to questions about the original 2009 investigation and whether the university properly responded to subsequent concerns about that process.”

In the meantime, Papazian’s letter spelled out changes that are already being made at San Jose State. The athletics department has worked with the Student Health Center and the Title IX Office to finalize a new sports medicine chaperone policy that will start in the 2021-22 school year. The Title IX office is also being restructured and the school is increasing confidential support services.

“We will enhance education and orientation programs focused on sexual assault prevention, reporting options, and resources for survivors, witnesses, and bystanders,” the letter reads. “Education will be provided to student-athletes, practitioners, and chaperones to ensure all persons involved in medical, physical therapy, and training sessions share a common understanding of what is expected.

“We will initiate an awareness and information campaign to encourage our student-athletes, coaches, and staff in the Department of Athletics to use Spartan Speaks – SJSU Athletics’ anonymous reporting tool.”

Related content: San Jose State Reinvestigating Athletic Trainer Case

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