San Francisco Chronicle
Alleged Stanford rape victim accused of lying
A Stanford University employee accused of lying about being raped twice on campus last year was arrested Wednesday and charged with felony perjury and other charges.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney is accusing Jennifer Gries, 25, of falsely reporting in August that she had been raped and doing the same in October. Each time, she applied to the tax-funded California Victim Compensation Board for financial reimbursement.
“This is a rare and deeply destructive crime,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the falsely accused. Our hearts go out to students who had to look over their shoulders on their way to class. Our hearts go out to legitimate sexual assault victims who wonder if they will be believed.”
In a statement sent campuswide, officials from the university called the false reports “damaging, both for true survivors of sexual assault and for the members of our community who experienced fear and alarm from the reports.”
In response to the two rape reports at the start of the fall semester, Stanford administrators issued campus-wide safety alerts, while hundreds of students protested and carried signs reading, “Stanford Protects Rapists.” Undergraduate leaders also condemned the university’s response to sexual violence.
Although the students’ reaction was prompted by the two rape reports from Gries, they expressed anger over what they called a systemic, inadequate response by the school to more than 1,000 reports of sexual violence on campus since 2015.
Stanford’s required crime disclosure shows that in a typical year, dozens of rapes are reported to campus police: 30 in 2021, 15 in 2020 during remote instruction, and 36 the year before.
“Sexual assault and other sexual offenses regrettably continue to be prevalent both at Stanford and in our broader society,” Stanford administrators said in their statement. “Our steadfast commitment to provide compassionate support for survivors of sexual assault and to prevent these acts from occurring in the first place remains unabated.”
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, an expert in sexual misconduct, noted that “research has consistently shown that only 2% to 10% of rape reports are false, which is the same rate as for other similar crimes.”
Stanford’s website identifies Gries as a housing service center supervisor. Stanford has placed her on leave and is reviewing her employment.
According to the DA’s office, Gries, of Santa Clara, visited the Valley Medical Center on Aug. 9 and said she had been raped by an unknown attacker in a restroom in Stanford’s Munger Graduate Residence near the Wilbur parking garage. Gries described the attacker as being in his late 20s. She said he grabbed her, told her not to scream, and raped her, the DA said.
At the hospital, Gries requested a sexual assault forensic exam. Although she declined to talk with law enforcement, she signed a form acknowledging that the nurse was a “mandated reporter” who was legally required to notify law enforcement.
On Oct. 7, the DA’s office said, Gries told a nurse at Stanford Hospital that she had been raped on her way back to her office after lunch. She reported that a man grabbed her arm, forced her into a basement storage closet and attacked her. She described the attacker as about 6 feet tall and in his late 20s. Gries again requested a rape exam and signed a form acknowledging that the nurse would have to report her allegations to law enforcement, the DA said.
The rape kits received priority for analysis “given the extreme public safety risk of a potential sex offender,” the DA said. But the results “were not consistent with her story.”
A subsequent investigation revealed that Gries had earlier lodged a sexual harassment complaint against a coworker fitting the description she had twice provided to the nurses and that she had told an acquaintance that she had been in a relationship with him.
The DA’s statement refers to the coworker as the victim.
It says that Gries also had told the acquaintance that she had been “sexually assaulted by the victim and became pregnant with his twins” but that she had had a miscarriage. “The investigation revealed that she was not pregnant at that time.”
Gries has been charged with two felony counts of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of knowingly inducing another person to give false testimony pertaining to a crime. If convicted, she could face jail time, said the statement. Gries wrote an apology to the victim in January.
The allegations of false reporting have already raised concerns among students.
“Last October, we organized a protest against Stanford’s institutional betrayal of survivors. This protest was not for one survivor, but for all survivors that remain unheard, undervalued, and continually victimized on Stanford’s campus,” said Eva Astrid Jones, who is active with Sexual Violence Free Stanford, an advocacy group formed to “stop the administration from brushing sexual violence under the rug.”
“Sexual Violence Free Stanford will continue to, and always, believe survivors,” Jones said.