Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message: An update related to student safety and well-being

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Students, faculty and staff:

On March 5, we informed you of troubling developments involving a local massage therapist and former independent contractor for Kansas Athletics who had recently been charged with one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Today, we are writing to share a brief update on the matter.

First, as a result of that communication, we have learned that the therapist provided free massages on campus to the general student population through the KU Alumni Association’s Finals Dinner – beginning in 2011 and as recently as spring and fall 2019 – and distributed gift cards that may have led to off-campus massages at his office. Local law enforcement is working to determine whether inappropriate conduct took place.

Separate from this, as noted in our previous communication, upon learning of the criminal charge, the university, The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health – our student-athlete health providers – together with an outside entity, immediately began an investigation into the massage therapist’s conduct on campus.

Our investigators have interviewed nearly 40 student-athletes and seven staff members to date. Thus far, investigators have found that inappropriate conduct, including unwarranted touching during massages, occurred with at least six female student-athletes. As required by law, the university has filed Clery Act reports regarding the alleged instances.

In addition, investigators have determined an athletic trainer was aware of at least some reports of unwarranted and unwanted touching by the therapist but failed to appropriately report the conduct, as is required by the university. We will continue our investigation into the conduct of the therapist and determine who, if anyone else, knew of inappropriate behavior that may have occurred.

As these investigations continue, we are asking for anyone in the KU community with information regarding the former massage therapist, Shawn P. O’Brien at Medissage - Kamehameha Massage LLC, to contact the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access or KU Public Safety. Please know, if you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault, there are support resources available to you in our community.

Importantly, we remind you that all university employees or UKHS employees with Kansas Team Health who are mandatory reporters have an obligation to share information regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault. Additionally, we have numerous protocols and required training focused on students’ well-being and the necessity of reporting inappropriate behavior. Through this investigation, we have learned that protocols were not followed. We are committed to strengthening education efforts of all staff and student-athletes in this area of mandatory reporting.

We will continue to share information as appropriate and will do everything possible to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff.

Douglas A. Girod

Jeff Long
Director of Athletics

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
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The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.