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San Jose State Athletics: FBI says it's investigating sex crimes allegations
San Jose State Athletics

San Jose State Athletics: FBI says it's investigating sex crimes allegations

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San Jose State University

The FBI acknowledged Tuesday for the first time that it is conducting a sex crimes investigation at San Jose State University and is asking for any possible victims to come forward.

SAN JOSE — The FBI acknowledged Tuesday for the first time that it is conducting a sex crimes investigation at San Jose State University and is asking for any possible victims to come forward.

The FBI wouldn't say who it is investigating, but last month, the university in its own investigation substantiated allegations from 10 female athletes who accused former athletic trainer Scott Shaw of inappropriately touching them under their bras and underwear while treating back, shoulder or hip injuries. Some of those athletes and some of Shaw's former colleagues have told the Bay Area News Group they have been interviewed by the FBI.

Most of the claims stem from alleged incidents between 2006 and 2009. At least two, however, allegedly occurred since 2017.

The statute of limitations is five years for what could be considered a federal crime of aggravated sexual abuse, meaning that to prosecute a criminal case, any offenses would have had to have happened by 2016.

"The clock is ticking," an FBI official said Tuesday. "There's a sense of urgency."

A third woman, a gymnast, came forward to the Bay Area News Group earlier this month alleging that Shaw had sexually abused her between 2014 and 2019. She said she has spoken to the FBI.

"If I had the courage to speak up about it, I'm going to take the opportunity," said the gymnast, whom the news organization is not identifying at her request. "Even though if other people are scared, at least I am capable of speaking up."

More than a dozen female swimmers came forward with complaints in 2009 that Shaw touched their breasts and genital areas during sports massages, but an internal university investigation cleared him and his use of so-called "pressure point therapy." He continued to work as the university's head athletic trainer until resigning last year after the university launched a second investigation that called it sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

Shaw has denied the allegations. Recently, he has not responded to repeated attempts to speak with him or his new lawyer, whom he has declined to name.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a civil rights lawyer, Title IX expert and former Olympic gold medalist who was raped by a stranger while jogging in the early 1980s, said it's important for victims to speak up.

"People who are silent should recognize that their coming forward doesn't just help them but helps tens of thousands of others," Hogshead-Makar said Tuesday. "Every time someone comes forward it makes it that much easier for the next person to come forward."

The FBI's statement Tuesday comes just days after the university reassigned Athletic Director Marie Tuite to a fundraising position outside of the athletic department.

The FBI has been tight-lipped about its involvement in the San Jose State case. The FBI played a role in the investigation of Larry Nassar at Michigan State where hundreds of gymnasts accused the sports doctor of sexual abuse.

In an emailed response to a question posed last week by this news organization, the FBI in San Francisco explained in a statement Tuesday that it has federal jurisdiction to investigate sexual misconduct allegations that include employees of all levels of government, from law enforcement officers to state employees.

Under section 242 of Title 18, the FBI can take on cases, whether the victims are minors or adults, if a government employee commits sex crimes "under color of law," meaning while acting in their official capacity in a position of trust.

"The FBI encourages victims or those who have knowledge of such misconduct to contact their local office or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov," the statement said.

Officials say the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom has garnered enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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