Gibbs Law Group is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against former San Jose State University (SJSU) athletic trainer and Director of Sports Medicine, Scott Shaw. Former students, media reports, and lawsuits accuse Shaw of inappropriately touching female athletes under the guise of injury treatment and athletic training. An investigation into Shaw’s alleged misconduct was reopened in 2020 after a 2009-2010 investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing despite numerous allegations against him, calling into question SJSU’s role in quietly covering up reports of sexual abuse for over a decade.
Former athletic director Scott Shaw accused of inappropriately touching student athletes; San Jose State accused of covering up sex abuse scandal
According to a 2022 class action lawsuit, Scott Shaw was employed at SJSU from 2006-2020 as the Head Athletic Trainer and Director of Sports Medicine. The lawsuit alleges that from around September 2017-November 2017, Shaw inappropriately touched four student-athletes without their consent, and without any legitimate purpose.
Previous allegations against Shaw highlight concerns that San Jose State University officials may have failed to properly intervene and protect students. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Shaw was cleared to coach after 17 female swimmers accused him of sexual misconduct, prompting an internal HR investigation which concluded in 2010. An investigation reopened in December 2019 after SJSU whistleblower and women’s swimming and diving coach Sage Hopkins shared substantial evidence with SJSU and NCAA officials that pointed to Shaw’s continued predatory behavior and abuse. USA Today states that Hopkins reported Shaw to the campus police, but he was never arrested or charged.
DOJ charged Shaw with sexual misconduct and finds that SJSU retaliated against whistleblowers
In 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Shaw with “civil rights violations for engaging in sexual misconduct with female student-athletes [from 2017-2020] under the guise of treating them for their injuries,” per a March 10, 2022 DOJ press release. According to ABC 7 News, the DOJ investigation found that:
“SJSU failed to respond to the athletes’ claims of harassment including ‘repeated, unwelcome sexual touching of their breasts, groins, buttocks, and/or pubic areas during treatment in the campus training facilities.’ As a result, the department concluded that SJSU’s response exposed student-athletes to harm.”
In addition, the DOJ found that SJSU retaliated against Sage Hopkins and another SJSU employee who tried to alert the school about Shaw’s behavior. In a letter to San Jose State University President Mary Papazian, Sage Hopkins wrote: “Your administration attempted to bully and silence me in a revolting and abusive attempt to silence the victims of Scott Shaw and protect those administrators’ roles in the coverup and enabling of this abuse,” as reported by the Mercury News. Sage Hopkins previously told ABC7 News: “The most important thing is the healing of our affected student athletes… Shaw and those who enabled his predation being held accountable is an important step in that process.”
Former SJSU Spartan student athletes including swimmers, gymnasts, share their stories:
Former SJSU Spartan swimmer Linzy Warkentin told USA Today that Scott Shaw gained her trust over a two-year period while treating her for an elbow injury. Then, without any explanation, Warkentin says that Shaw started reaching under her sports bra and pressing on her breast, claiming it was trigger-point therapy. Another swimmer named Kristen Trammel provided a similar account to USA Today, asserting that Shaw reached under her underwear and pressed on her groin, also claiming that it was trigger point therapy. A former water polo player who had a similar encounter stated that after her interactions with Shaw, “Something in [her] head went off, like, ‘[t]his doesn’t feel right.’” After the first 2009-2010 university investigation cleared Shaw of any wrongdoing, swimmer Caitlin Macky told USA Today that she never received any closure after Shaw violated her, adding:
“I’m upset that this person abused his power, but I’m even more upset that this larger power allowed him to do that and then still keep his job there[…]We weren’t taken seriously, and we weren’t protected at the time.”
If you were a student-athlete at San Jose State University and are concerned about your treatment or interactions with Scott Shaw, we want to hear from you. Contact our experienced legal team to confidentially discuss your potential legal options or to hear more about our investigation.
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Gibbs Law Group’s award-winning sexual assault attorneys represent survivors across the country. Our team is committed to empowering sexual assault survivors to regain control, achieve justice and begin to heal. We recently obtained a $73 million settlement on behalf of former patients of UCLA gynecologist Dr. James Heaps, who was accused of sexual abuse and misconduct.
- We believe you can heal. The journey may look different for everyone. But know this: what happened to you wasn’t your fault, and you aren’t alone.
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- You’re in control. As your advocates, we’re dedicated to helping you gain your power back. You can choose to work with female or male attorneys and staff. Whether you prefer phone calls, videoconferencing or texting, we can communicate in a way that’s comfortable for you. You are in control and you decide what you want to do.
- We’re with you, every step of the way. We’ll keep you updated on your case—in non-lawyer terms. We will explain the legal process and next steps in a clear way you can understand. Our client-centered approach is rooted in a sincere focus on our clients’ wellbeing and intended to empower clients’ pursuit of justice.
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