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California university doctor charged with several accounts of sexual assault

The head of sports medicine for San Jose State University was charged with sexual assault on Thursday in connection with a decade-long investigation into whether the doctor was using controversial muscle therapy as an excuse to grope female student-athletes.

(CN) — The head of sports medicine for a university in California was charged with multiple felonies Thursday in connection with allegations he sexually assaulted several female athletes over a three-year period starting in 2017. 

The case, which has clear evocations of the Larry Nassar case at Michigan State University, involves Scott Shaw, 54, the Director of Sports Medicine at San Jose State University. The U.S. Attorney in Northern California said Shaw touched the buttocks and breasts of four female student-athletes under his care without a legitimate reason and without consent.  

The case has roiled the state-run campus leading to a spate of resignations. Athletic Director Marie Tuite resigned last year after the allegations first surfaced. San Jose State President Mary Papazian also resigned from her post late last year after allegations came from more than 15 female student-athletes. The charges filed on Thursday relate to four of the women who came forward with allegations. 

No names have been released. 

The university has already settled with female student-athletes for nearly $1.6 million after a federal investigation found that university officials failed to properly respond to more than a decade of complaints. 

Seventeen student-athletes filed a complaint about Shaw in 2009, but their concerns were not followed up on and the university fired two employees that shared their concerns about Shaw’s conduct with the administration. 

The controversy surrounds what Shaw called pressure point therapy for soft-tissue muscle injuries, wherein the doctor forcefully touches multiple points on the human body. Several women claimed that Shaw was using this technique as camouflage to engage in unlimited inappropriate touching of young women without their consent. 

USA Today reported that a state investigation into the incidents found that Shaw’s approach to muscle therapy “lacked medical basis, ignored proper protocols and violated the system’s sexual harassment policies.”

Sage Hopkins, a former swim and dive coach for the Trojans, was the first person to collect complaints from his athletes and submit them to the administration. 

According to his account, he was not only rebuffed by Tuite, but the former athletic department director enlisted some of her subordinates to hand down disciplinary actions to against Hopkins. 

Steve O’Brien, who formerly worked in the San Jose State athletic department, said he was fired last year for refusing to discipline Hopkins and another employee. 

Shaw is slated to appear in U.S. District Court in San Jose on March 15 and faces seven years in prison if convicted. 

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