Stanford University statement on wrestling investigation
Stanford University issued the following statement November 30, 2018:
The safety and wellbeing of our students, including student-athletes, is vitally important to Stanford. We take this commitment deeply seriously in all of our programs and activities.
Stanford’s Title IX Office has completed a sexual harassment investigation into concerns from some former wrestling team members regarding conduct in a Stanford locker room a number of years ago. The reported allegations regarding the locker room relate to conduct in the period 2010 and before.
At that time, the Stanford wrestling team used a locker room that was also open to other members of the Stanford community who used the university’s recreational facilities. That changed in 2014, when the team moved to a student-athlete-only locker room, which the team continues to use today.
The allegations focused on an individual, an employee at the university, who was alleged to have showered in unnecessarily close proximity to members of the wrestling team in the locker room that was open to the Stanford community, and to have engaged in other non-physical interactions, such as staring, that made some wrestlers uncomfortable.
Some, but not all, of the allegations regarding the individual were first raised in 2010, when they were brought to the attention of the university’s Sexual Harassment Policy Office. The university investigated the 2010 allegations promptly after they were raised. The investigation at that time concluded that the university’s policies on sexual harassment had not been violated, but the individual agreed to take certain precautions to preclude further concerns.
This summer, a former wrestler made allegations against the same individual, some identical to those raised in 2010 and some additional, but none that were alleged to have taken place after the investigation of the 2010 concerns. As a result of these additional allegations, the university launched a second investigation, conducted by the Title IX Office.
The university has heard no allegations, at any time, of inappropriate physical contact with students or others. There is no allegation that the individual touched any wrestler or said anything sexually inappropriate to any wrestler. Also, the university has received no concerns about the individual or any related issues from families affiliated with the Cardinal Wrestling Club, which is an independent youth wrestling club that uses Stanford facilities.
The university has taken the reported concerns seriously and has investigated them rigorously. Our commitment is to conduct such investigations thoroughly, fairly and impartially, respecting the privacy rights of all participants as well as the safety and wellbeing of our campus community.
The investigation by the Title IX Office into this matter has included interviews with more than 30 witnesses who are former and current wrestlers and coaches.
While the investigation acknowledges that some conduct of the individual in the period up to 2010 may have made some wrestlers uncomfortable, it concludes that there is not sufficient evidence that a violation of Stanford’s sexual harassment policy occurred. The standard of proof applied to these cases is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the evidence must demonstrate it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct occurred.
Stanford does not disclose investigation findings in detail, in recognition of the privacy rights of all participants in the process. We acknowledge that this can make it difficult for observers hearing one side or another to understand a given outcome in a case. We can share that the investigation found that much of the evidence in this case was disputed. Many of the wrestlers interviewed were not discomforted by the individual’s conduct, some were, and others reflected that any discomfort they experienced was a product of their own relative immaturity at the time. The individual involved has consistently denied any sexual intent.
We acknowledge and regret the discomfort that individual student-athletes may have felt as a result of the shower facilities that were available at the time. The outcome of the investigation is not intended to communicate any invalidation of the feelings or perceptions of those wrestlers who reported concerns. Rather, the outcome reflects the determination that the evidence gathered does not establish a policy violation.
We encourage anyone with additional information about these matters to reach out to our Title IX Office so that any additional concerns can be thoroughly investigated and addressed. The university may reopen an investigation if warranted by additional information becoming available. The Title IX Office can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 497-4955.