The Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged Tuesday that it is conducting a sex crimes investigation at San Jose State University and is asking possible victims to come forward.
At reported by The Mercury News of San Jose, it was the first time the FBI confirmed its involvement in probing the multiple misconduct claims hanging over SJSU's athletic department. The bureau wouldn’t say who it is investigating, but the university's own investigation substantiated last month allegations from 10 female athletes who accused former director of sports medicine Scott Shaw of inappropriately touching them while treating back, shoulder or hip injuries. Some of those athletes and some of Shaw’s former colleagues have told the Bay Area News Group they have been interviewed by the FBI, according to The Mercury News.
Most of the claims stem from alleged incidents between 2006 and 2009. At least two, however, allegedly occurred since 2017, which would make those cases eligible to be prosecuted as federal crimes of aggravated sexual abuse because they still fall within the five-year statute of limitations. “The clock is ticking,” an FBI official said Tuesday. “There’s a sense of urgency.”
The FBI’s statement Tuesday comes just days after the university reassigned athletic director Marie Tuite to a fundraising position outside the athletic department.
A third woman, a gymnast, came forward to the Bay Area News Group earlier this month alleging that Shaw had sexually abused her between 2014 and 2019. She said she, too, has spoken to the FBI.
“If I had the courage to speak up about it, I’m going to take the opportunity,” said the gymnast, whose identity is being protected by the news organization at her request. “Even though if other people are scared, at least I am capable of speaking up.”
The Mercury News reported that more than a dozen female swimmers came forward with complaints in 2009 that Shaw touched their breasts and genital areas during sports massages, but an internal university investigation cleared him, finding legitimacy in his use of so-called “pressure point therapy.” He continued to work as the university’s head athletic trainer until resigning last year after the university launched a second investigation that called it sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Shaw has remained silent, other than to deny the allegations.
Until this week, the FBI had been tight-lipped about its involvement in the San Jose State case. The FBI played a role in the investigation of Larry Nassar at Michigan State where hundreds of gymnasts accused the sports doctor of sexual abuse.
The FBI’s statement Tuesday comes just days after the university reassigned Athletic Director Marie Tuite to a fundraising position outside of the athletic department.
The FBI in San Francisco explained in a statement Tuesday that it has federal jurisdiction to investigate sexual misconduct allegations that include employees of all levels of government — from law enforcement officers to state employees. Under section 242 of Title 18, the FBI can take on cases, whether the victims are minors or adults, if a government employee commits sex crimes “under color of law,” meaning while acting in their official capacity in a position of trust.
“The FBI encourages victims or those who have knowledge of such misconduct to contact their local office or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov,” the statement issued to Bay Area News Group said.