San Jose State settles retaliation lawsuit, apologizes to swim coach

San Jose State University has quietly settled a retaliation lawsuit with swim coach Sage Hopkins and apologized and apologized 12 years after bringing to the fore more than a dozen female swimmers sexual assault claims against an athletic trainer. published a formal letter. More athletes to abuse in the next decade.

A laudatory posting on the school’s website on Sunday and a tweet announcing the letter comes as Hopkins recently settled in a lawsuit filed against the university in April, seeking a one-year retaliation attempt on former athletic director Marie Tuit. was accused of. Trying to discredit his allegations against him and trainer Scott Shaw.

Hopkins gave no details on the agreement, saying only that it was “amicable”.

Letter, signed by interim president Steve Perez and new athletics director Jeff Konya, thanked Hopkins “for his courage to advocate for the safety of SJSU student-athletes” and for his commitment to doing the right thing “despite great personal sacrifice.” He got into trouble with his superiors over his ongoing complaints about Shaw.

Tuit and the school’s president, Mary Papazian, both stepped down last year in the wake of the scandal that sent shock waves through the state of San Jose. The university has agreed to pay $4.9 million to 28 victims in two separate settlements.

In a statement Tuesday, Hopkins called the past years a “difficult and challenging time for me and my family,” but added that the public’s focus should be on “supporting and appreciating the strength of the dozens of women who have come forward.” and participated in it.” various investigations. ,

The university letter praised the coach for his continued efforts to sound alarm bells over the multiple claims of sexual assault by Shaw. But it offered no accountability on the part of the previous university administration, which oversaw the investigation allowing Shaw to continue working with female student-athletes, or acknowledged that Hopkins faces retaliation for his whistleblowing. Was lying.

“I think it’s too little too late,” said Lindsay Warkentin, a member of the 2009 swim team who complained about Shaw’s treatment. She reprimanded the university for not explicitly admitting in her letter that Hopkins faced retaliation for speaking out. “I mean his life for the last two and a half years, maybe even more so, has just been hell because of this.”

Hopkins’ efforts would later be upheld by a second San Jose state investigation in 2019 and a subsequent Justice Department investigation.

“He was thrown in the mud, his career being systematically destroyed,” said Jason Laker, SJSU professor and previous whistleblower who sued the university for issues covering up sexual assault.

Meanwhile, the federal investigation said, Shaw had “unfettered access” to female student-athletes, even as more victims emerged, one as recently as February 2020.

Shaw, who has maintained his innocence and has not been charged with the crime, is being investigated by the FBI.

Laker criticized the university for publishing the letter on its website with little public acceptance.

“Frankly, it should be emailed to everyone with some commentary and a set of commitments,” he said. “Will this eventually be the time the university learns leadership? Or will it be like every time where it is treated as a PR problem?”

In a statement, San Jose State said it published the letter to Koch as a “show of support” and said former President Papazian provided a separate citation to Hopkins in October, as a settlement with the department. of Justice.

Hopkins first expressed concern about Shaw in December 2009, when members of his swim team said that Shaw touched him under his bra and underwear, which he described as “pressure-point therapy”. went. The complaint triggered a widely discredited internal investigation that quickly cleared Shaw of wrongdoing, claiming that sexual harassment was a legitimate form of treatment.

Hopkins continued to express concerns about Shaw and her access to female student-athletes, and in 2019 she sent a nearly 300-page dossier to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which sparked San Jose State’s second internal investigation that found Shaw reversed the removal decision and led a federal investigation into the university.