The former deputy athletic director at San Jose State University is accusing several school officials, including the athletic director and president, of covering up sexual assault claims and retaliating against those who reported them, according to a newspaper report Thursday.
Steve O’Brien, who was fired in March, has filed a tort claim notice — the prerequisite to a lawsuit — with the California State University System, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
O’Brien said he was a victim of retaliation and lost his job because he wouldn’t discipline two employees, including the whistleblower in a sexual assault investigation against an ex-sports medicine director, the Mercury News said. The story was first reported by USA Today.
Christopher Boscia, O’Brien’s lawyer, told USA Today his client was terminated for exposing the school’s attempt to cover up sexual assault claims against one of its athletic trainers, Scott Shaw. At least 17 female swimmers had come forward with complaints about Shaw, starting in 2009.
Shaw resigned last month, but the investigation continues into reports that he touched athletes “beneath their undergarments, massaging their breasts and pelvic areas when they sought treatment for other parts of their bodies.”
Although SJSU cleared Shaw of wrongdoing in 2010 after its initial investigation, the school launched another investigation last December after women’s swimming coach Sage Hopkins filed a complaint with the NCAA, as well as other state and federal agencies.
Among O’Brien’s other claims are that San Jose State’s athletic director Marie Tuite often threatened her department’s employees, telling them, “Those who make attempts on the life of the king aren’t kept in the kingdom very long.”
O’Brien, who was hired in 2017, was fired by Tuite on March 2.
San Jose State said in a statement released to the Mercury News that “although we disagree with many of Mr. O’Brien’s assertions, it is our practice not to comment on personnel matters.”