Amidst a backdrop of tense deliberations, the federal judge presiding over the San Jose State sexual assault case delivered a stern admonition to the troubled jurors on Thursday. U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman made it clear that bullying or antagonizing fellow jurors was unacceptable. Knowing the pressure of cramped quarters, she even offered the deliberating team an empty courtroom as a reprieve. However, this proposal itself ignited a divisive debate among the jurors, with the foreman eagerly nodding for extra space and another juror dismissing the need entirely.
The courtroom drama unfolded during the fourth day of deliberations in the trial involving Scott Shaw, the former athletic trainer accused of touching former athletes inappropriately. The contentious case sought to determine whether Shaw’s actions were intrusive or medically legitimate treatment. The intensity of the proceedings provided a rare glimpse into the secretive world of juror deliberations, shedding light on a scandal that rocked San Jose State University to its core.
The scandal resulted in the resignation of the university president and athletic director, as questions arose regarding how Shaw, the director of Sports Medicine, continued working with athletes for a decade after being accused by 17 swimmers in 2009 of sexually abusing them under the guise of treatment. Shaw, 56, entered a plea of not guilty on six federal civil rights charges related to violating the constitutional rights of four former athletes who came forward with complaints within the statute of limitations.
Judge Freeman, before sending the jury back to the deliberation room, implored each juror to reach a conclusion that they truly believe in, cautioning them against being swayed by their peers’ opinions. In the event that a verdict is not reached by the end of Thursday, the jury will have Friday off and reconvene on Monday, granting time for the schedules of all involved.
This gripping courtroom saga highlights the challenges of navigating delicate sexual assault cases, further amplified by the intertwined dynamics within a jury room. As the fate of Scott Shaw hangs in the balance, the eyes of the nation turn to this landmark trial, eagerly anticipating a just resolution for the athletes who bravely stepped forward to seek justice.