UW Found A Volleyball Star's Sexual Assault Allegation "Extremely Credible" But Let The Accused Official Leave Without Consequence
According to a report from the Seattle Times, former University of Washington volleyball star Cassandra Strickland filed a sexual assault claim against former senior associate athletic director Roy Shick in late 2017. Shick left UW before the investigation into said claim concluded, and though the process resulted in him being “made ineligible for rehire” at the school, his misconduct was never attached to his record or made public, allowing him to get another job in college athletics.
Strickland says she was walking into the locker room after a fundraising event when Shick offered her a ride home. She says he instead drove behind the school’s baseball fields and “groped her, then penetrated her ‘with his fingers and penis’” without her consent. She spoke to the athletic department’s sports psychologist about what happened, though she was initially afraid of filing a formal report. She eventually did make a report with the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office, but not before Shick allegedly called Strickland on the phone after hearing that she had talked to the psychologist about the incident.
Washington followed procedure and investigated Strickland’s claims, eventually ruling that they were “extremely credible.” Shick was placed on administrative leave and temporarily banned from athletic venues and events while the investigation was underway, eventually resigning in Jan. 2018 to work for a Seattle startup. In a letter about Shick’s departure to UW staff, athletic director Jennifer Cohen did not mention the investigation.
UW never reported Strickland’s claims to the police at Strickland’s request. Shick was hired by Grand Canyon University in Nov. 2018, and they say they were not made aware of the investigation and that it did not show up on a background check (Shick was fired on Sunday). In fact, Washington “only shared the finding with a small group of university and athletic department officials.”
Strickland eventually agreed to accept a settlement for therapy and counseling in exchange for dropping the complaint, though the terms of the settlement allowed Washington to “access to her counseling records.” She told the Times she felt pressured to sign the settlement, which she did without consulting a lawyer, in order to put the ordeal behind her and help herself focus on her professional volleyball career abroad.
In an email to the Times, Strickland said:
“My story is not unique. There are hundreds, if not thousands of other girls at other universities, whose stories are being buried to protect the reputation of the schools they attend. It’s a problem, it’s been a problem for far too long and we need to change that.”
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