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Ten female athletes seek damages after findings of abuse against San Jose State trainer

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San Jose State University

Ten former San Jose State University female athletes alleged school employees knew of a pattern of sexual abuse by a longtime athletic trainer but did nothing to protect them, according to tort claim notices they filed this week against the California State University System.

The tort claims, which are required in California before a lawsuit is filed, give a public agency 45 days to investigate and potentially settle ahead of a suit.

In their claims, the women allege CSU employees, including then-director of sports medicine Scott Shaw, subjected them to sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination, and that CSU was deliberately indifferent to the risk of sexual abuse. They assert violations of federal and state laws, including Title IX, and seek in excess of $10,000 in damages.

The women’s claims mirror testimony by the CSU’s own expert, who in a Title IX investigation that concluded last week described Shaw’s actions as “at the very least unethical and disturbing.” The investigation found Shaw’s physical therapy treatments lacked medical basis, ignored proper protocols and violated the system’s sexual harassment policies.

Shaw resigned in August, but the tort claim notices are the latest investigation or legal action stemming from his conduct since at least 2009.

Former San Jose State director of sports medicine Scott Shaw was found responsible in a series of state Title IX investigations for inappropriate contact with female athletes.

In April, USA TODAY reported San Jose State was reinvestigating the allegations from 17 swimming and diving athletes who in 2009-2010 were part of a school investigation into Shaw’s conduct. Reporters interviewed four of the women, who said Shaw touched them inappropriately during “pressure-point” or “trigger-point” therapy. USA TODAY also spoke with a water polo and gymnastics athlete from around that time who described similar touching by Shaw.

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