Closing arguments loom in San Jose State athletics trainer sexual assault trial

SAN JOSE – Defense lawyers for San Jose State’s former head athletic director rested their case Friday, leaving only closing arguments next week before a jury decides whether Scott Shaw was using legitimate medical treatment when he touched the private areas of female athletes.

Neither Shaw, who resigned from the university in 2020 at the height of the scandal, nor Sage Hopkins, the whistleblowing swim coach who kept up a decade-long crusade to oust him, took the stand during the defense’s case.

The criminal trial in a San Jose federal courtroom marks the closing chapter in an ongoing saga that rocked the university’s athletics department and led to a Department of Justice investigation, more than $5 million in legal settlements and the ultimate resignations of the school’s athletic director and president.

On Friday, defense lawyer Jeremy Blank attempted to undermine one of the more shocking allegations in the case – that while performing a hamstring stretch on a softball athlete Shaw pressed his erect penis against her groin. Blank’s expert witness, Dr. Brett DeGooyer – who is team physician for a rural Washington state community college – said it “was not mechanically possible” for that to happen unless both Shaw and the athlete were performing the splits. What she felt, DeGooyer said, was likely his knee.

Under cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Pitman, DeGooyer said that while touching the breast or groin of a female athlete might be appropriate in treating shoulder or knee injuries, he acknowledged that he would never make contact with the athlete’s nipple or areola as Shaw is accused of doing.

Also, the sports medicine doctor said, he would always explain the treatment beforehand, seek consent and document everything – none of which Shaw did, according to testimony and evidence presented during the trial.

“You would agree that informed consent is especially important with young people?” Pitman asked.

“Yes,” DeGooyer said, and in his practice in Moses Lake, Washington, he considered it mandatory.

Defense lawyers will likely reiterate during closing arguments what they said in their opening statements, that while Shaw failed to explain his treatment or seek consent, he could be accused of engaging in poor practices, but not sexual assault.

Prosecutors on Friday, however, suggested his lack of consent or record keeping was a sign of Shaw hiding his guilt.

More than a dozen women swimmers first came forward with complaints about Shaw in 2009, but a now-discredited investigation by the school’s human resources office cleared Shaw after deciding his “trigger point” technique of massaging parts of the body near the women’s private parts was a legitimate therapy. He remained on the job for another decade until Hopkins’ took his concerns outside the university.

Shaw has pleaded not guilty to six federal charges of violating the constitutional rights to “bodily integrity” of four female athletes who came forward with complaints since 2017, within the five-year statute of limitations.

The prosecution presented all four women during the trial, but were also allowed to call four more, whose experiences date back mostly to 2008 and 2009, to show a pattern of sexual abuse.

Also Friday, prosecutors took the opportunity to highlight the difference between the defense and prosecution’s expert witnesses: The prosecution’s witness, Dr. Cindy Chang, is the chief medical officer for the U.S. Women’s Soccer League who worked for 13 years as the head team physician for UC Berkeley athletics. DeGooyer, the defense expert, spent no more than 30 hours in his career supervising athletic trainers.

The trial continues on Monday with closing arguments before the jury begins deliberating.

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