A top San Jose State University athletic trainer accused of sexual misconduct toward more than a dozen female athletes a decade ago stepped down four months after a USA TODAY investigation into the school’s handling of the case.
Scott Shaw, the university’s director of sports medicine since 2008, told members of the athletic department in an Aug. 13 email obtained by USA TODAY that he was retiring. His last day was Aug. 19.
San Jose State made no public announcement. One week later, the school removed his name from the athletic department’s staff directory. In response to questions from USA TODAY, San Jose State said Shaw resigned. University spokespersons declined to comment further.
Shaw did not respond to a request for comment but previously denied any wrongdoing through his attorney.
In April, USA TODAY first reported that SJSU began quietly reinvestigating claims that Shaw had allegedly touched female athletes beneath their undergarments, massaging their breasts and pelvic areas when they sought treatment for other parts of their bodies.
Read the full investigation: San Jose State reinvestigates claims athletic trainer inappropriately touched swimmers
The university’s first investigation into the claims, based on the accounts of 17 members of its women’s swimming and diving team, started in late 2009 and ended in 2010 with a finding of no wrongdoing.
The school did not explain its reasons for clearing Shaw in response to detailed questions from USA TODAY in April.
No new complaints had been made against Shaw since 2009, San Jose State said in April, but the school reopened the investigation in December after SJSU president Mary Papazian became aware of a nearly 300-page file compiled in 2018 by swimming coach Sage Hopkins, which had been circulating among university, NCAA and Mountain West officials.
The bulk of the file, which was obtained by USA TODAY, pertains to the allegations from a decade ago. Dozens of pages address other issues related to the swim team and claims of dysfunction in the athletic department in the years since.
The California State University System’s Title IX office has been supervising the investigation into Shaw since February. San Jose State hired an outside investigator to lead the inquiry.
Shaw’s resignation means he may avoid discipline if the investigation finds him responsible. The CSU System’s investigation is proceeding anyway.
“While the university cannot initiate discipline against a respondent who is no longer employed, the procedures set forth in the CSU Executive Orders still apply,” said CSU System spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp, “and the investigation against Mr. Shaw is continuing despite his resignation.”
The 2009 allegations
USA TODAY spoke earlier this year to four of the 17 swimmers who in 2009 said Shaw touched them inappropriately.
The swimmers told USA TODAY that Shaw often worked alone with them in the training room, did not explain his treatments and did not obtain informed consent. They described Shaw touching their breasts or groins while conducting trigger point therapy away from the site of their pain, in some cases touching their nipples beneath their clothing.
In addition, reporters tracked down two athletes who competed on other San Jose State women’s teams around the time of the original investigation who said they stopped seeing Shaw after similar touching that made them uncomfortable. Both said the university never asked them about Shaw.
The swimmers who spoke with USA TODAY faulted San Jose State for its handling of the first investigation. The school confirmed it investigated the formal complaint of one swimmer and treated other swimmers’ claims as witness statements. The school only shared the outcome of the case with the one complainant, the swimmers said.
Since the 2009-10 case, San Jose State has changed its sports medicine policies to bar the type of touching Shaw allegedly did without explicit consent and the presence of a chaperone. It did not answer a question about whether it changed the policies because of Shaw.
Although San Jose State began reinvestigating Shaw in December, the Title IX coordinator who had started the investigation resigned without explanation in late February.
Papazian then asked the CSU Title IX office to supervise the investigation “to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.”
Shaw previously denied any wrongdoing through his attorney, Lori Costanzo.
“San Jose State University made a thorough and complete investigation into one allegation made against Mr. Shaw 11 years ago,” Costanzo wrote in a cease-and-desist letter to Hopkins accusing him of resurrecting the allegations against her client to ruin his reputation.
“The matter was promptly dropped with no further action taken against Mr. Shaw,” Contanzo wrote. “In fact, Mr. Shaw continued to work in his current role, without consequence, to the present.”
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