Stanford University employee charged with 2 false accusations of sexual assault

A Stanford University employee was arrested Wednesday on charges that she lied to authorities about two alleged rape incidents she claimed occurred on the California campus, prosecutors said.

According to the complaint obtained by NBC News, Jennifer Gries, 25, of Santa Clara, was arrested on two felony counts of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of perjury after an investigation found she twice made false accusations of rape against someone that fit. the description of a black colleague, in what Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called a “rare and deeply devastating crime.”

The false assault reports — which did not identify Gries by name — “caused campus-wide security alerts and campus unrest,” the DA’s office said. They also prompted national media coverage, including NBC News, which covered the two false reports of an attack, as well as a student-led protest on campus in October following the second false report.

“These false reports are damaging, both to the real survivors of sexual assault and to the members of our community who felt fear and concern from the reports,” Stanford officials said in a statement Wednesday, noting that the data shows that the false reports of sexual violence are extremely rare.

In fact, research has shown that false reports make up 2% to 8% of sexual assault reports, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. And black men in particular are falsely accused of sexual assault. Five black and Latino teenagers, for example, were wrongfully imprisoned for six to 13 years for the 1989 rape of a white jogger in New York’s Central Park before their convictions were overturned in 2002.

“Sexual assault and other sexual offenses unfortunately continue to be prevalent both at Stanford and in our wider society. Our steadfast commitment to providing compassionate support to survivors of sexual assault and preventing these acts from happening in the first place remains undiminished,” Stanford’s statement continued.

The university’s Department of Public Safety spent more than $300,000 to investigate the false reports and hire outside security, according to the probable cause document.

Grice, who works in the university’s Department of Housing Services, was he was released on $25,000 bond and has a San Jose arraignment scheduled for April 17, a DA spokesman said.

He could face up to five years in prison if convicted, the spokesman said.

It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney. Gries did not immediately respond to messages and emails to contacts listed by her name Wednesday morning.

According to a LinkedIn profile under her name, she has been working at Stanford since August 2020 — first as a front desk assistant and most recently as supervisor of Housing Service Centers.

Gries is on leave, officials said in the statement released Wednesday, adding that they will “review her employment in light of information shared” by the DA’s office.

A university spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the falsely accused colleague is still employed.

Two false reports in two months

Grice first told county sexual assault forensics nurses at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Aug. 9 that she had been assaulted by a black man in his 20s in a bathroom near Stanford’s Wilbur Hall, according to his office. Yes. He said he claimed he did not want to contact law enforcement and that the assailant was an “unknown assailant.”

After seeing the subsequent campus security alert, Grice reached out to Stanford’s Department of Public Safety to speak with a detective about the criminal process. When they met on August 17, she “declined to divulge further details about the alleged sexual assault” but said she knew the alleged assailant and did not believe the public was in danger. He also asked the detective “if human resources would be made aware of this report” and “said he did not expect a community alert or that the incident would be in the news,” the probable cause document states.

The detective told her the university had received “many questions from concerned parents of students at Stanford about whether the campus is safe.”

Less than two months later, on Oct. 7, Grice again reported to a Stanford hospital sexual assault forensics nurse that she had been raped on campus — this time, she claimed, by a black man in his 20s in a basement storage room. CLOSET.

In both cases, the probable cause document says, she signed a consent form acknowledging that the nurses were authorized reporters to notify law enforcement of the reported sexual assaults and that they would submit her name to law enforcement along with with a report of a suspicious injury. That led to the two misdemeanor counts of inducing perjury, the complaint states.

Both of Gries’ sexual assault test kits were “analyzed as priority rushes given the extreme risk to public safety of a potential sex offender,” the DA’s office said. According to the probable cause document, “lab reports indicated no male DNA was detected in the genital or oral areas” for both rape kits.

Evidence revealed that “Grice made up the stories because he was angry with a co-worker,” the DA’s office said, adding that he twice applied under penalty of perjury for money from the California Crime Victims Council — which reimburses expenses related to the crime — a statement that she had been sexually assaulted. He received no funds from the entity, a DA spokesman said.

“I can’t make his life hell”

An investigation by Stanford’s Department of Public Safety revealed that Grice had filed a sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker who matched the description of the alleged rapist — a black man in his 20s — last March, and that a human resources investigation found that the complaint were unfounded, according to the probable cause document. He was then transferred to a different location at work, he says.

The investigation also concluded that she had told an acquaintance that she had an affair with this colleague, that he had sexually assaulted her and that she had become pregnant with twins before suffering a miscarriage.

But Gris was not actually pregnant, the investigation concluded. And texts between her and the acquaintance showed Grice discussed the alleged sexual assault by her colleague, blaming herself for the alleged assault and saying: “I can’t make his life hell.” according to the probable cause document.

On Nov. 3, Grice met again with the same Stanford Public Safety detective she spoke with earlier and “confirmed that she knew the perpetrator personally.” He also “asked what would happen if he gave a name,” and the detective said “he would talk to that person and other people who knew them both,” the probable cause document says.

When the detective told Gries she already knew who he was describing, Gries “became visibly agitated, hyperventilated and fanned” before saying she “needed air and started crying.” She left and later texted the detective that she was going to the emergency room because she was feeling overwhelmed, the probable cause document says.

On Jan. 24, Gries met with the detective again and “admitted to lying about the rapes and wrote a letter of apology to the target of the false allegations who was the same person as the HR investigation, the victim,” according to the probable cause document .

“She stated that she was upset with the victim because she felt he gave her ‘false intentions’ and turned her friends against her,” it says.

In an interview with authorities, Gries’ colleague “denied any sexual or romantic contact” with her and said the HR investigation left him “significant” and caused severe stress while caring for his ailing mother, who later died . He also provided evidence supporting where he said he was at the time of the alleged assaults and provided a swab for DNA analysis, according to the probable cause document.

He told authorities that the false accusations had made him feel “disgusted”.

“I don’t feel human. I don’t feel human at all,” he said, according to the probable cause document.

The students react

Campus sexual violence prevention advocates said the false reports should not distract from the prevalence of sexual violence at Stanford.

“This instance of a baseless allegation does not change the fact that 40% of female-identified undergraduate students at Stanford will be sexually assaulted during their time on campus,” Sexual Violence Free Stanford, a student-led advocacy group. , citing 2019 research findings.

“Not only are large rates of campus sexual assault unreported, but rates of false sexual assault reports are almost always comparable to—if not lower than—those of other crimes,” he added.

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