WSU finds former QB Jason Gesser violated sexual harassment policy

WSU finds former QB Jason Gesser violated sexual harassment policy
Young Kwak
Alyssa Bodeau, formerly Alyssa Wold, says she had some doubt as to whether the complaint she filed against Jason Gesser would be taken seriously.

Washington State University has found that former star quarterback Jason Gesser violated the university's sexual misconduct policy when he forced himself on Alyssa Bodeau, a former WSU volleyball player, following a fundraising event in 2015.

Bodeau, whose maiden name is Alyssa Wold, made a formal complaint against Gesser on Sept. 17. She accused Gesser, then a WSU employee, of repeatedly trying to kiss her without her consent, then groping her under her dress despite her repeatedly saying "no." The WSU investigation found that the conduct "meets the definition of sexual harassment and nonconsensual sexual contact."

"The conduct impacted [Bodeau] emotionally, created a lack of personal security for her, and created a hostile and offensive environment," says the investigative report completed Oct. 8, which Bodeau has provided to the Inlander.

WSU, which issued a news release when Bodeau filed her complaint in September, has not yet released the investigation report to the public and would not comment on the conclusion of the investigation when reached by the Inlander.

In September, WSU's student newspaper, the Daily Evergreen, revealed that the university had investigated Gesser last year for a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct. That investigation, however, did not find enough evidence that Gesser had violated policy. Bodeau filed her complaint within days of reading the Evergreen story and realizing that other women may have been victims of Gesser's behavior. Soon after Bodeau filed her complaint, another woman came forward to the Spokesman-Review to say she called the police after Gesser exposed himself to her during a massage. Gesser resigned from WSU the same day that allegation came out.

Bodeau tells the Inlander she was relieved to learn that WSU found Gesser violated the sexual harassment/misconduct policy.

"The best way to describe it is just like a huge sigh of relief," she says. "There was always a little bit of doubt in my head that they weren't going to take it seriously."

WSU finds former QB Jason Gesser violated sexual harassment policy (2)
Courtesy of WSU
Jason Gesser
While Bodeau was a student and on the WSU volleyball team, she worked for Gesser's family as a nanny before she graduated in 2014 and moved to Olympia. Then, in the summer of 2015, Gesser invited her to an event arranged by the Cougar Athletic Fund.

After the event, Bodeau went to get drinks at a bar with Gesser and Bill Moos, who was then WSU's athletic director. It was later that night when Bodeau says Gesser forced himself on her.

The next day, Bodeau told two different people close to her how upset she was with what happened, but she did not want to report the incident out of fear of disrupting Gesser's family.

As part of their investigation, WSU investigators interviewed both of those people. They also interviewed Bodeau's now-husband, who Bodeau told of the incident with Gesser in 2016, roughly a year after it happened. Investigators attempted to interview Gesser and Moos, who is now the AD at the University of Nebraska, but Gesser declined to participate and Moos did not respond to the request.

Gesser, 39, issued a statement in September apologizing to WSU leadership for his private life creating a distraction for WSU. He never admitted to any allegations, though he addressed the "young woman that I made feel uncomfortable" and said he "truly never meant to cause you harm."

Bodeau says she is not aware of any attempts by Gesser to contact her for a direct apology. The Inlander has been unable to reach Gesser for comment.

"I'm not expecting it, especially after seeing his statement," she says. "I think that was a clear indicator of what kind of apology it would be."

Bodeau says things have calmed down since the weeks after she filed her complaint, when she was flooded with supportive messages and other women sharing their own #metoo stories.

Overall, she says she's glad that she came forward to share her story.

"I'm very happy. I felt very supported by WSU with the results of my situation specifically," she says.

She wants women to feel safe coming forward in the future. Now, she's exploring ways to encourage women to speak out.

"If you don't have resources, or family support or community support in general, that's enough to keep people silent," she says.

As for Gesser, she's not sure exactly what should happen next.

"I would ask the question: Should someone like that ever be allowed back into a position of influence over young adults, or in a position of influence and power?" she says.

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Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.