A Stanford University employee was arrested Wednesday on charges of lying to authorities about two alleged incidents of rape that she says occurred on the California campus. the 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 inducing false testimony after an investigation found she twice made false accusations of rape against someone who matched. the description of a black male co-worker, in what Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called a «rare and deeply destructive crime.»
The false assault reports, which did not identify Gries by name, «triggered campus-wide security alerts and campus riots,» the prosecutor’s office said. They also spurred national media coverage, including NBC News, which covered the two false assault reports, as well as a student-led protest on campus in October after the second false report.
“These false reports are damaging, both to actual sexual assault survivors and to members of our community who experienced fear and alarm from the reports,” Stanford officials said in a statement. statement wednesdaynoting that the evidence shows that false reports of sexual violence are extremely rare.
In fact, research has shown that false reports account for 2% to 8% of sexual assault reports, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. And black men in particular have long been falsely accused of sexual assault. Five black and Latino teenagers, for example, were wrongly imprisoned from six to 13 years for the 1989 rape of a white jogger in New York City’s Central Park before their convictions were overturned in 2002.
“Unfortunately, sexual assault and other sexual crimes continue to be prevalent both at Stanford and in our society at large. Our steadfast commitment to providing compassionate support to survivors of sexual assault and to preventing these acts from happening in the first place remains unwavering,” Stanford’s statement continued.
The university’s Department of Public Safety spent more than $300,000 investigating the false reports and hiring outside security, according to the probable cause document.
Gries, who works in the university’s Department of Housing Services, has been released on $25,000 bail, and an arraignment is scheduled in San Jose for April 17, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.
She could face five years in jail if convicted, the spokesperson said.
It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney. Gries did not immediately respond to text messages and emails from contacts listed under his name Wednesday morning.
according to a LinkedIn profile with your nameShe has worked at Stanford since August 2020, first as a Front Desk Assistant and most recently as a Housing Service Centers supervisor.
Gries is on leave, the officials said in the statement released Wednesday, adding that they «will review his employment in light of information shared» by the prosecutor’s office.
A university spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether the falsely accused co-worker is still employed.
Two false reports in two months
Gries first told county sexual assault forensic exam nurses at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on August 9 that she had been attacked by a black man in his 20s in a bathroom near Wilbur Hall in Stanford, according to the prosecutor’s office. She said that she claimed that she did not want to contact the police and that the perpetrator was an «unknown assailant.»
After seeing the security alert from the back campus, Gries approached the Stanford Department of Public Safety to speak with a detective about the criminal prosecution. When they met on August 17, she «refused to reveal any further details about the alleged sexual assault» but said she knew the alleged perpetrator and that she did not believe the public was in danger. She also asked the detective «whether human resources would be notified of this report» and «said she did not expect a community alert or the incident to be in the news,» the probable cause document says.
The detective told him that the university had received «numerous questions from concerned parents of Stanford students about whether the campus is safe.»
Less than two months later, on October 7, Gries again reported to a sexual assault forensic nurse at Stanford Hospital that she had been raped on campus, this time, she alleged, by a black man in his 20s in a basement. cupboard.
In both cases, the probable cause document says, she signed a consent form acknowledging that the nurses were mandated reporters who had to notify police of reported sexual assaults and that they would submit her name to police along with an injury report. suspicious. That led to the two misdemeanor charges of inducing perjury, the complaint says.
Gries’ two sexual assault test kits «were reviewed as priority emergencies given the extreme risk to public safety from a potential sex offender,» the prosecutor’s office said. According to the probable cause document, «laboratory reports showed no male DNA detected in the genital or oral areas» for both rape kits.
The evidence revealed that «Gries fabricated the stories because he was angry with a co-worker,» the prosecutor’s office said, adding that she twice applied under penalty of perjury for funds from the California Board for Victims of Crimes, which reimburses crime-related expenses — certifying that she had been sexually assaulted. She received no funds from the entity, a DA spokesman said.
‘Can’t I make her life hell?’
An investigation by the Stanford Department of Public Safety revealed that Gries had filed a sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker fitting the description of the alleged rapist, a black man in his 20s, last March and that a Human resources investigation found the allegation to be unsubstantiated, according to the probable cause document. Later, she was transferred to a different location at work, she says.
The investigation also concluded that she had told an acquaintance that she was in a relationship with that co-worker, that he had sexually assaulted her, and that she had become pregnant with twins before miscarrying.
But Gries had not actually been pregnant, the investigation concluded. And text messages between her and her acquaintance showed Gries opened up about the alleged sexual assault of her co-worker, blaming herself for the alleged assault and saying, «Can’t I make her life a hell?» according to the probable cause document.
On November 3, Gries met again with the same Stanford public safety detective with whom he spoke earlier and «confirmed that he personally knew the shooter.» She also «asked what would happen if she provided a name,» and the detective said she would «talk to that person and others who knew both of you,» the probable cause document says.
When the detective told Gries that she already knew who was being described, Gries «became visibly distraught, hyperventilating and fanning herself» before saying that she «needed air and began to cry.» She left and then texted the detective that she was going to the ER because she was feeling overwhelmed, the probable cause document says.
On January 24, Gries met with the detective again and «admitted to lying about the violations and wrote an apology letter to the target of the false accusations, who was the same person as the human resources investigation, the victim,» according to the probable cause. document.
«She said she was upset with the victim because she felt he gave her ‘false intentions’ and turned her friends against her,» she says.
In an interview with authorities, Gries’s co-worker «denied any sexual or romantic contact» with her and said the HR investigation left him «scarred» and caused extreme stress while caring for his ailing mother, who then he died. He also provided evidence supporting where he said she was at the time of the alleged attacks, and provided a swab for DNA analysis, according to the probable cause document.
He told authorities that the false accusations had left him feeling «disgusting.»
“I don’t feel human. I don’t feel human at all,” she said, according to the probable cause document.
Campus sexual violence prevention advocates said 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,» Stanford student advocacy group Libre said Wednesday. of Sexual Violence. instagramreferring to the findings of a 2019 survey.
«Not only are large percentages of sexual violence underreported on campus, but the rates of false reporting of sexual violence are almost always comparable, if not lower, than for other crimes,» he added.