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A former San Jose State University (SJSU) director of sports medicine pleaded guilty today in the Northern District of California for unlawfully touching female student-athletes under the guise of providing medical treatment.
As part of the plea agreement, Scott Shaw admitted that, between 2017 and 2020, he violated the civil rights of four students who played on women’s athletics teams by touching their breasts and buttocks without their consent and without a legitimate medical purpose.
According to documents filed in connection with the plea agreement, from 2008 until August 2020, Shaw served as the director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer at SJSU, a public university that is part of the California State University system and was an employee of the State of California. His duties included treating injuries sustained by student-athletes at SJSU.
During the fall semester of 2017, Shaw treated I.S., a member of the women’s water polo team. On one occasion while treating I.S., Shaw began massaging the back of her shoulder and neck, and then he moved his hands down and touched her breast.
During the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years, Shaw treated J.M., a member of the women’s water polo team. While doing so on one occasion, Shaw applied pressure to both sides of her neck and worked his hands down to her chest, and then he touched her breast, including her areola, under her clothing with his bare hand. On another occasion while treating J.M.’s back, Shaw touched her buttocks under her clothing with his bare hand.
During the spring semester of 2019, Shaw treated A.L., a member of the women’s water polo team. Shaw treated A.L. to address an injury to her shoulder, and while treating A.L.’s injury, he touched her breast under her clothing with his bare hand.
During the 2019-2020 academic year, Shaw treated K.B., a member of the women’s soccer team, on two occasions. On one occasion, K.B. sought treatment for back pain, and, while examining her spine, Shaw touched her breasts, and then he touched her buttocks. On another occasion, K.B. sought assistance in applying electrotherapy patches known as “stim pads” to treat her back pain, and Shaw touched her buttocks under her clothing with his bare hands while placing the stim pads.
According to documents filed in connection with the plea agreement, Shaw admitted that he engaged in all of the conduct described above on SJSU’s campus in San Jose, California, and in his capacity as a SJSU athletic trainer, and the student-athletes only allowed him to have physical contact with them because of his status as a SJSU Athletic Trainer. Shaw also admitted that he touched each of the student-athletes as described above without any legitimate diagnostic or treatment purpose, and without seeking or securing their consent in advance. Shaw further admitted that his conduct was not the result of mistake, carelessness, or accident.
“Scott Shaw abused his position of trust and authority as a public university official to sexually assault female student-athletes who entrusted him with their medical care,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “No student-athlete should ever be subject to sexual harassment at the hands of their sports medicine director, coach or any other official at a college or university. This egregious conduct violates federal law, and the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute individuals who exploit their positions of authority to sexually abuse our community members. We stand with the survivors and thank them for their courage and willingness to support the government’s prosecution of this defendant.”
“Shaw now has acknowledged his guilt and has admitted the conduct that resulted in the charges that were filed against him,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Robbins for the Northern District of California. “We hope his guilty plea and conviction bring some level of solace to his victims, and we now look to sentencing which will be a major step toward bringing this matter to a conclusion.”
“The defendant in this case used his position as an athletic trainer to commit acts of abuse against multiple female athletes who came to him for care,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Today’s guilty plea shows that the FBI will not tolerate violations of civil rights under the guise of legitimate medical treatment.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14. Shaw faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison for each count, a maximum of one year of supervised release for each count and a fine of up to $100,000 on each count.
The FBI San Francisco Field Office investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Pitman for the Northern District of California, and Trial Attorney MarLa Duncan and Attorney Advisor Sarah Howard of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.
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