September 19, 2018 / 3:54 AM / a month ago

WSU assistant AD resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations

Washington State assistant athletic director Jason Gesser resigned Tuesday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual advances.

Gesser, 39, was a quarterback for the Cougars from 1999-2002. He was placed on administrative leave Monday after Alyssa Bodeau, 27, said she filed an official complaint against Gesser with the school’s Office for Equal Opportunity, according to the (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review.

He had been working in a fundraising capacity for the athletic department.

“I am deeply saddened that recent circumstances in my private life have created a distraction for the department and university,” Gesser wrote in a statement Tuesday. “While I certainly never intended to hurt anyone, I believe it is best for all involved for me to move on. ...

“I apologize ... for creating a situation that reflected negatively on WSU in any way.”

University president Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun co-signed a statement that acknowledged the school’s acceptance of Gesser’s resignation. Adding of Bodeau’s complaint, they wrote, “We sincerely appreciate the courage it takes for individuals to come forward with concerns of this nature. We take the allegations extremely seriously, and the Office for Equal Opportunity intends to continue its investigation.”

Bodeau wrote in a statement to the Seattle Times on Tuesday, “I’m extremely happy to see that Jason has resigned his position of influence and power at WSU. It’s a relief to know that no other young women will be subjected to Mr. Gesser’s actions and abuse of power. I pray he gets the help he needs and that his family can move forward.”

Bodeau was a former babysitter for Gesser’s children. She said she was emboldened to speak up about her encounter with Gesser, which she said happened in June 2015, after news accounts surfaced last week about other women having made similar accusations against him.

The earlier allegations were reported by Washington State’s student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen. The report said that numerous women, including student interns and Gesser’s coworkers, had made the allegations, but that the Office for Equal Opportunity investigated in 2017 and cleared him of wrongdoing.

Late last week, Gesser, perhaps best remembered for leading the Cougars to the Rose Bowl in 2003, called the earlier allegations a “non-story.”

“When other girls came forward, it changed the game,” Bodeau said. “When I saw that it was a pattern, that’s when I decided, ‘I’m not going to stay quiet.’ If it doesn’t stop now ... other girls will be in danger.”

Gesser wrote Tuesday, “To the young woman that I made feel uncomfortable, I respectfully have a different recollection of the situation you’ve described, but acknowledge that I should never have been in the situation in the first place, and I apologize. I truly never meant to cause you harm.

“This is a very difficult time for me and my family, and I truly appreciate our friends, including the incredible colleagues and alumni I have met through my time at WSU. With this personal matter being made so public, it is taking a toll on my family in this close-knit community.

“I appreciate your understanding for the impact this has on them.”

Bodeau added in a message to others who might have been harassed, “Staying silent is no longer an option. If my story resonates with you, come forward. Bring it to light so that we all — as a community — can begin the healing process.”

—Field Level Media

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