SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- For more than a decade, 17 former San Jose State female swimmers say their calls for help amid sexual harassment by former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw were not heard.
Tuesday, the Department of Justice found San Jose State University violated Title IX rules and will have to pay $1.6 million to the former athletes who were harassed. The announcement is considered a win in the eyes of the attorney for 10 of the former athletes interviewed by the DOJ.
"The feeling is really one of vindication," Attorney Shounak Dharap said. "For over a decade our clients were led to believe that the conduct they suffered was okay. Seeing the Department of Justice now come forward with the finding, words can't really express that feeling."
The DOJ investigation found that SJSU failed to respond to the athletes' claims of harassment including "repeated, unwelcome sexual touching of their breasts, groins, buttocks, and/or pubic areas during treatment in the campus training facilities." As a result, the department concluded that SJSU's response exposed student-athletes to harm.
The department also found that SJSU retaliated against two employees who tried to alert the school about the trainer's behavior. One employee repeatedly alerted the school to the threat the trainer posed, according to the report. The other employee spoke out against retaliation against the other employee and was fired by SJSU.
The University released a statement to ABC7 News Tuesday that said in part, "We thank all the individuals who courageously came forward during the investigations. To the affected student-athletes and their families, we deeply apologize."
You can read the full statement, as posted to Twitter by the university, here:
Under the agreement, the DOJ details ways the school will handle Title IX complaints in the future in the hopes that something like this will never happen again:
"That idea of what can be done so that this doesn't ever happen to any other student athlete, that has always been the driving force behind my clients' actions," Dharap said.
A civil lawsuit will still continue between the 12 athletes represented Dharap and the school.