Review: San Jose State Botched Probe of Athletic Trainer's Alleged Misconduct

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A four-page review released last week by the California State University chancellor‘s office concluded that the 2009-10 investigation of San Jose State University head athletic trainer Scott Shaw was insufficient and that the campus police department did not properly respond to reports of sexual misconduct filed against him by two student-athletes in 2009.

As reported by Summer Lin of the Los Angeles Times, several female student-athletes reported in December 2009 that Shaw had touched their breasts, groins, buttocks or pubic areas during treatment that was described to them as “trigger-point therapy” or “pressure-point therapy,” according to a report released last year by the U.S. Justice Department.

The investigator in the 2009-10 probe was provided statements and contact information of 27 student-athletes, 17 of whom said they had “suffered questionable conduct at the hands of Shaw,” the review found. The investigator only interviewed 14 of the athletes, according to the report, and he listed only one athlete as a complainant.

According to the Times, citing the CSU chancellor's office review, the athletes said that the investigation “focused not on their allegations, but on the validity of Shaw’s pressure-point therapy."

“The final investigation report was insufficient given the gravity of the allegations at two pages in length ... and contained little to no discussion or analysis of the allegations,” the review found.

The results of the 2009-10 investigation were shared with Shaw, who was allowed to “remain in his position with little to no limitations,” while the students were unaware of the outcome until an athletic department worker told them that Shaw had been exonerated and his therapy determined to be “appropriate,” the review states.

Related: Email Proves SJSU President Was Warned Early About Shaw

According to the Times, the review also found that:

  • The same athletic department employee who notified the athletes about the outcome of the probe raised concerns to the university that the investigation was inadequate and that Shaw had continued to have access to female athletes. The employee asked the school’s Title IX office to revisit the investigation, but the office ignored the request and failed to follow up on those concerns.
  • In December 2009, additional student-athletes on teams that weren’t overseen by Shaw also reported misconduct, but the university failed to investigate those claims.
  • A former San Jose State coach was also told by one of his athletes that they had been inappropriately touched by Shaw. The coach confronted Shaw about the allegations and also informed his supervisor. Neither the supervisor nor the former coach took further action. 

Federal prosecutors charged Shaw earlier this year with six counts of violating the athletes’ civil rights by allegedly touching their breasts and buttocks without their consent between 2017 and 2020. Shaw pleaded not guilty to all counts and denied all wrongdoing. He faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison if convicted.

Shaw resigned from his position at SJSU in August 2019.

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