Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that San Jose State University (SJSU) has agreed to pay $1.6 million to 13 female student-athletes for mishandling sexual abuse complaints they filed against Scott Shaw, the school’s former athletic trainer.
The US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California conducted a probe into SJSU’s handling of the complaints, concluding that the university’s inadequate response inflicted additional harm on the students.
The investigation also found that SJSU retaliated against two employees who helped the students, including one who reported the trainer to school officials.
The student-athletes claimed that Shaw repeatedly touched their breasts, buttocks, and private areas without consent during treatment at on-campus training facilities.
“With this agreement, San José State University will provide relief to survivors and transform its Title IX process to ensure accountability in its athletics program and create a safer campus for all its students,” Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.
University officials promised full cooperation during the US Justice Department’s investigation into Shaw and concluded that the findings were similar to the internal probe ordered by SJSU in 2019.
The investigations found that Shaw inappropriately groped 23 students. However, only 13 have accepted the settlement and will receive $125,000 each.
“We thank all the individuals who courageously came forward during the investigations. To the affected student-athletes and their families, we deeply apologize,” university officials said in a statement.
SJSU President Mary Papazian issued an apology last April addressed to the campus community after noting that the external investigation provided substantial proof of the accusations.
Apart from the payment, the settlement requires the university to change how it addresses sexual harassment complaints. SJSU must also support its Title IX office, train students and employees on giving and receiving consent before treatment, and provide help to those sexually harassed by Shaw.
“The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority,” the university said. “We will continue to learn from the past so we never repeat it.”