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Stanford clears employee of pre-2010 harassment of wrestlers

Stanford University has cleared an employee of sexual harassment allegations from incidents reported by some Cardinal wrestlers prior to 2010 in the school's locker room and shower area used by wrestlers but at that time also accessible to others.

The five-month investigation of alleged incidents from 2002-2010 was launched after a former wrestler of that era brought his concerns to Stanford's Title IX office this summer. These latest allegations reportedly mirrored those raised by other student-athletes before 2010 which were investigated at the time.

Here's how the report, issued by Stanford's Title IX office late last week, described the situation: "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."

The report went on to state, "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."

At the time of the alleged incidents, 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.

According to the latest report, the Title IX office interviewed at least 30 witnesses who are former and current wrestlers and coaches during the investigation into the wrestlers' claims.

The Stanford situation has some parallels to incidents reported by some Ohio State wrestlers from the mid-1970s into the 1990s, where Buckeye wrestlers have reported being ogled by some non-athletes in the university community in a shower room/locker room area that was in a building which housed intermural athletics in addition to wrestling facilities. That building has since been torn down. That situation -- as well as cases involving a medical doctor on the Ohio State staff accused of inappropriate touching of students during medical exams -- continue to be investigated by the school, the Ohio Attorney General, and a major Columbus law firm.

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