At least six female athletes at the University of Kansas reported
they experienced unwanted touching from a massage therapist who was
recently charged with a child sex crime, the school said Tuesday.
also discovered that an athletic trainer knew of “unwarranted and
unwanted touching” by Shawn O’Brien, but the school said in an email to
staff and students that the trainer did not “appropriately report the
conduct, as it is required by the university.”
KU started an
internal investigation into O’Brien, 48, after he was charged with
indecent liberties with a child younger than 14 in his home. The Lawrence Journal-World has reported that the incident occurred in 2013, but the child didn’t tell a state social worker until 2018.
According to contracts between O’Brien and the KU athletics department
obtained by the Kansas News Service, O’Brien provided massage services
starting in 2012 for the women’s basketball team. That eventually
expanded to tennis, softball and soccer. His contracts were terminated
earlier this year when KU learned of the sex-crime charge.
school also said that O’Brien, who owned a massage business in Lawrence,
provided free massages to the student population at the KU Alumni
Association’s Finals Dinner beginning in 2011 and as recently as fall
2019. O’Brien also provided gift cards for off-campus massages at his
business in Lawrence, Medissage-Kamehameha Massage, LLC. KU said that
local police are investigating.
O’Brien’s lawyer, Philip R.
Sedgwick of Kansas City, Kansas, told the Kansas News Service on Tuesday
that his client denies the new allegations, as well as the charge
O’Brien faces in Douglas County District Court.
that we’ll be able to present that when it comes to trial,” Sedgwick
said, adding, “I think it’s sad we tend to presume he’s guilty.”
KU Chancellor Doug Girod and Athletics Director Jeff Long said in the release that the school has interviewed nearly 40 student-athletes and seven staff members. It has filed Clery Act
reports for all of the allegations of unwanted touching. The Clery Act
requires colleges and universities that receive federal funds to keep
and disclose crime statistics.
Other universities have faced scandals regarding medical staff and athletes, notably Michigan State,
where a doctor who also worked for USA Gymnastics admitted sexually
assaulting female patients for decades, and Ohio State, where a
physician sexually abused male student-athletes.
is asking for anyone affiliated with the school who has information
about O’Brien to contact its Office of Institutional Opportunity &
Access or KU Public Safety. It also said its “numerous protocols” in
reporting inappropriate behavior were “not followed,” and the school is
“committed to strengthening education efforts of all staff and
student-athletes in this area of mandatory reporting.”
Stephan Bisaha reports on education and young adult life for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @stevebisaha.
Erica Hunzinger is the news editor for the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @ehunzinger.
The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses.
Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and
updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish,
go here. This list was last updated at 2:35 p.m. March 29.
CASES AND DEATHS
321 cases, including two from out of state (see map for counties)
6 deaths (4 in Wyandotte County, 2 in Johnson County)
NOTE: These figures only
include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real,
unknown total. Community transmission is occurring in parts of Kansas.
STATEWIDE ORDER TO STAY HOME
Gov. Laura Kelly
is instituting a statewide stay-at-home order as of 12:01 a.m. March
30. It will last until at least April 19. Stay-at-home orders allow
people to take care of essential activities (such as grocery shopping or
going to work) as well as exercise outside, but otherwise keep to
The state’s stay-at-home order supersedes at least
13 county-by-county orders. Should the state’s order lift before a
county’s is through, the county can choose to keep its own in effect.
SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?
For the whole state: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is now mandating home
quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below.
If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or
higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact
your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19
Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27.
States with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington) on or after March 15.
Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado (if your visit was March 8th or later).
ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to
quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out
International destinations on or after March
15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international
travel should also finish out their quarantine.
of March 27, Kansas health secretary Lee Norman said the state lab was
handling 175 samples a day. But Kansas will receive more equipment
within about a week that will let it handle 700 to 1,000 samples daily,
though shortages of specialized supplies such as nose swabs may still hamper work at times.
said there’s enough capacity in the state, now that testing has ramped
up through commercial labs and hospitals. State testing is reserved for
high-risk groups, such as sick nursing home residents and health care
workers. Others can ask their doctor or nurse practitioner to order
through private labs.
What Kansas still lacks is enough testing material to study COVID-19 rates among people without symptoms.
KANSAS HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
gives the state government more power to marshal resources and triggers
the state's response plan. The state Legislature has extended Kelly's
declaration through May (and can extend it), with the aim of giving her
the ability to make certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.
On March 22, Kelly eased state rules
to expand the use of telemedicine, to temporarily license more health
workers and to allow heavier trucks on Kansas highways hauling relief
supplies. On March 23, she ordered a ban on evictions if a tenant was
unable to pay because of the coronavirus crisis. And she extended the
income tax filing deadline to July 15, in line with a delay for filing
federal tax forms.
HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?
University of Kansas and Wichita State: All of them will go fully
online for the end of the school year. Students at K-State and KU will
need special exemptions to remain in dorms.
Washburn and Fort Hays State are online. Newman University expanded
spring break for two weeks (March 14 to March 29). Johnson County
Community College will close campus from March 14-29, and all courses
will restart online March 30. Pittsburg State started break a day early
and will resume classes indefinitely online on March 30.
HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?
Laura Kelly and Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson have shut
down all K-12 schools, public, private and parochial, for the rest of
the 2019-20 school year. They had initially issued a strong
recommendation that schools close March 16 through 20.
Some county health departments had already issued similar orders.
A Kansas State Department of Education task force has issued guidance to school districts on how to continue some amount of student learning.
WHAT’S BEEN CANCELED OR SUSPENDED?
governor’s executive order temporarily banning landlords from evicting
businesses or residential tenants is effective until May 1. That same
order put in a moratorium on any mortgage foreclosures through the same
The governor mandated on March 23, through an executive order, that gatherings be restricted to less than 10 people.
Kansas state workers: Access
to the Statehouse is limited to official business only, and lawmakers
went on break early. Kelly wanted most state employees to stay home for
at least two weeks starting March 23.
State prisons: The
Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state
facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges
families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video
Electric companies: Evergy, which serves
950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect residential or business
services for an unspecified amount of time due to the “unprecedented
challenge” of coronavirus that “may result in customers facing
unexpected or unusual financial strain.”
Casinos: All four state-owned gaming facilities will close at the end of business on March 17, and remain so until at least March 30.
Public events: Many events and public places around the state have been canceled until at least the end of March.
Kansas State High School Athletics Association canceled the state
basketball tournament midway through it. And the Big 12 suspended spring
sports until March 29.
HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS?
usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most
people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found
in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six
weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.