Cal State faculty assists whistleblowers in San Jose State in cases of sexual abuse

A faculty group representing the California State University system passed a resolution endorsing the right of individuals to speak out against abuse in response to a whistleblower case involving San Jose state swimming coach Sage Hopkins and alleged sexual misconduct by a former sports coach.

The resolution entitled “Supporting students, faculties, coaches and staff who raise concerns about a climate of harassment, retribution and bullying” was adopted at a meeting of the CSU Academic Senate last week.

The five-paragraph resolution states that the Academic Senate “supports and stands in solidarity with the faculty at San Jose State University and students who responded to abuse and remained silent.”

The resolution goes on to say that the system’s 23 locations should be places where it is welcomed and valued to speak out against abuse.

The resolution was passed within days of the San Jose State Academic Senate, which raised concerns about the handling of sexual abuse allegations of women athletes from 2009 onwards. It called on the university administration to protect the campus community from retaliation for reporting misconduct.

The San Jose state resolution said media reports in the athletics department of sporting director Marie Tuite caused concern “that there is a culture of retribution, harassment and bullying.”

The state’s academic senate has 53 faculty members from the system’s 23 locations. The statewide resolution said the academic senate rejects covert and overt threats against students and faculties who express opinions that administrators disagree.

“Title IX and non-discrimination are laws that are central to the CSU’s mission to promote safe learning environments that lead to the success of everyone in the university, especially students,” the resolution reads. “Faculties, staff and students who report deficiencies can expect the administration to investigate, report and take appropriate action to create a climate in which potential whistleblowers can act regardless of their safety and wellbeing.”

Executive Committee chairman Robert Collins, an associate professor in San Francisco State, did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment. Another member of the Executive Committee declined to comment because it was against discussing resolutions individually.

The issue concerns allegations made by 17 female swimmers in 2009 that former coach Scott Shaw sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment.

A school exam in 2010 found that the uncomfortable touch was due to Shaw’s use of “pressure point therapy,” which is a “real means of treating muscle injuries.”

Shaw, who was promoted to director of sports medicine in 2008, continued to treat women athletes for the next decade. He resigned in September 2020, four months after the allegations were first published by USA Today.

Shaw was not arrested or charged with a crime. In a brief interview with the Bay Area News Group, he said that “there is more to the story,” but declined to provide details.

The allegations have caught the attention of the FBI and lawyers for the Department of Civil Rights of the Department of Justice. They have also triggered legal action by at least 10 female athletes and illegal dismissal suits from former sports department employees who were involved in the case. Last month, Hopkins filed a retaliatory lawsuit against the administrators of the San Jose state.

The lawsuit said Hopkins continued to raise concerns after the initial investigation when the sports administration switched staff. After finding out that Shaw was still treating some of the swimmers, Hopkins sent a 300-page dossier on the case to officials at the conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Mountain West, which includes the state of San Jose. The action prompted San Jose President Mary Papazian to reopen the case in 2019.

The results of the second investigation were announced on April 15, reversing the results of the original investigation and explaining that Shaw’s method of treatment, which massaged women’s breasts and underwear near their genitals, found no medical value. Investigators also said they found two more victims after 2017 who were currently college students.

The Bay Area News Group reported on a third victim who said Shaw started treatment in 2014 and continued until she graduated in 2019.

In a statement to USA Today in April 2020, Papazian said she first learned of the allegations in December 2019.

“After I was absent from the university at the time of the allegation, I checked with our Title IX and Human Resources Department about the 2009-10 investigation and learned that SJSU’s Human Resources investigation found no wrongdoing,” she said at the time.

On May 6, the school posted another report on its website saying that Papazin learned of the 2009 allegations six days after arriving on campus in July 2016.

According to the school’s new narrative, outgoing interim president Sue Martin sent Papazian and other administrators an email with information about issues in the athletics department. The statement said the email referred to Shaw, “who was still on campus despite being accused of improper touch many years ago.”

The university now says Papazian forwarded Martin’s email to the deputy vice president of human resources and requested a review of the athletics department.

Changes to the “climate review” included the reassignment of then-sporting director Gene Bleymaier, who was supposed to focus on raising capital in his final months before a five-year deal ended in June 2017.

It also resulted in the hiring of Tuite, the then assistant athletics director, to take over the department.

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