San Jose State president apologizes to athletes who say they were sexually abused by trainer

SAN JOSE — San Jose State president Mary Papazian publicly apologized Thursday to athletes who say they were sexually abused by the school’s former athletic trainer and acknowledged that a previous investigation into allegations of improper touching during physical therapy was flawed.

Papazian sent a campuswide letter to students, faculty and staff a day after members of the faculty union wrote an email to California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro to express concerns over San Jose State’s “cover-ups” of sexual abuse scandals as well as other grievances not related to the athletics department.

San Jose State and the statewide system are facing a handful of legal actions over the handling of a 12-year-old case that alleged athletic trainer Scott Shaw had inappropriately touched 17 women athletes in the guise of medical treatment. Shaw, who resigned in August, has denied the allegations.

“To the affected student-athletes and their families, I apologize for this breach of trust,” Papazian wrote Thursday. “I am determined that we will learn from the past and never repeat it.”

She said the SJSU needs answers to questions about the original 2009 investigation and whether the university “properly responded to subsequent concerns about that process.”

Papazian added that more recent allegations were discovered during the course of the investigation that began 17 months ago. The chancellor’s office oversaw the investigation, she said.

“San Jose State’s public acknowledgment that that sexual harassment happened is an extremely important step,” said Shounak S. Dharap, a lawyer representing at least 10 former SJSU women athletes. “That doesn’t negate what happened. And it certainly doesn’t roll back that the 10-plus years that our clients and many survivors suffered trauma as a result of what happened.”

No charges have been filed against Shaw. However, the university’s handling of the case is under investigation by federal authorities, according to a lawyer representing a former SJSU athletics administrator.

This is a breaking news story. We’ll update with more information as we can.

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Author: Elliott Almond

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