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After reviewing wrestlers’ claims of inappropriate locker room staring, Stanford finds lecturer Hung Le not responsible for violating sexual harassment policies

University concludes evidence did not meet ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard

Following the conclusion of a Title IX investigation that has been ongoing since the summer, the University has dismissed allegations made by seven former Stanford wrestlers against an individual — who the Mercury News has identified as lecturer Hung Le — for an ongoing practice of inappropriately staring at them while they showered in a locker room.

“There is not sufficient evidence that a violation of Stanford’s sexual harassment policy occurred,” the University wrote in a statement published on Nov. 30 in Stanford News.

The University definition of sexual harassment includes “visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature,” when, among other situational factors, it could interfere with “an individual’s academic or work performance,” or create “an intimidating or hostile academic, work or student living environment.”

The Stanford News statement reports that the Title IX Office interviewed at least 30 witnesses, including former and current wrestlers and coaches, during its investigation. The misconduct is alleged to have taken place between 2002 and 2010.

“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 statement read. “The individual involved has consistently denied any sexual intent.”

According to the statement, the locker room used by the wrestling team at the time was open to Stanford community members who used the University’s recreational facilities. In 2014, the team moved to a student-athlete only locker room, which they use today.

The statement clarified that the standard of proof used in the investigation was a preponderance of evidence, meaning that evidence must demonstrate “it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct occurred.”

“Without discounting the experiences of the individuals, the question was whether the conflicting evidence established by a preponderance of the evidence that the players were subjected to conduct of a sexual nature,” wrote Lauren Schoenthaler, Senior Associate Vice Provost of Institutional Equity & Access, in an email to The Daily. “We can share that the investigation found that much of the evidence in this case was disputed.”

To the lack of evidence, the University wrote that no allegations of inappropriate physical conduct were made, and that they had not received concerns about “the individual” being accused or any related issues from families affiliated with the Cardinal Wrestling Club, to which Le was formerly affiliated.

The University wrote they would reopen an investigation “if warranted” as additional information became available, encouraging those with knowledge of the situation to report to the Title IX office.

Schoenthaler emphasized that, despite insufficient evidence to find the accused individual of a policy violation, he was “given advisement.”

“We want people to come forward when there is a concern and we will often take steps to alleviate those concerns even when … the conduct does not reach the level of a policy violation,” Schoenthaler said.

“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 statement read. “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.”

This report has been updated to include comment from Senior Associate Vice Provost of Institutional Equity & Access Lauren Schoenthaler.

This report will be updated as more details and perspectives come to light.

 

Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu and Karen Kurosawa at karen16 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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