Robert Salonga and Jakob Rodgers
Bay Area News Group
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A Stanford University employee who authorities say twice reported last year that she was viciously dragged out of sight on campus and raped — touching off panic about a serial predator — is now accused of fabricating the claims as part of a revenge plot against a co-worker.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has charged Jennifer Ann Gries, 25, of Santa Clara, with two felony counts of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of making a false crime report.
Gries was arrested Wednesday and booked at the Santa Clara County jail and then released pending an April 17 arraignment date, according to authorities and jail records. Gries works for the college’s housing services. The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the allegations against Gries “a rare and deeply destructive crime” that affects “legitimate sexual assault victims who wonder if they will be believed.” Assistant DA Terry Harman took that notion a step further.
“We are dismayed at the different levels of destruction that she engaged in,” Harman said. “When you make a false allegation of sexual assault, it’s an insult to all of those who have survived sexual assault. You are mocking their pain and experience and using it in a way that is so destructive.”
An investigative summary accompanying the criminal complaint filed Tuesday indicates that Gries felt romantically spurned by a co-worker and generally described him — a Black man in his late 20s — as her purported assailant.
She was also the source of an earlier human resources complaint involving a claim she became pregnant with, then miscarried, the man’s twins after he raped her, all of which was deemed unfounded. Her resentment also appeared in text messages to another co-worker that were reviewed by police in which she discussed trying to make the man’s life “a living hell” and that “I’m coming up with a plan. That way he’s (expletive) his pants for multiple days.”
Authorities say the man was never romantically involved with Gries, and that forensic exam kits collected after the two rape claims yielded no corroborating evidence. Months later, in late January, DA Investigator Sheena Woodland contended that Gries, in a recorded police interview, “admitted to lying about the rapes and wrote an apology letter to the target of the false allegations.”
Gries also said “she was upset with the victim because she felt he gave her ‘false intention’ and turned her friends against her.”
The first rape report was made Aug. 9; Gries claimed she was in a parking lot near the Munger Residence Hall when an unknown man grabbed her, took her into a bathroom and raped her. The woman made the report at Valley Medical Center, where she went to get a sexual assault forensic exam and told medical staff that she did not want to speak to police.
A second report by Gries was made Oct. 7, after which she went to Stanford Hospital for another forensic exam. She told medical staff there that a man walked into her campus office, grabbed her and dragged her into a basement and raped her. She similarly stated that she did not want to talk to law enforcement.
The false-report charges allege that she lied to medical staff, who made it clear that they were required to alert police to her assault claims. The perjury counts are based on her signing forms, under penalty of perjury, to receive benefits from the California Victim Compensation Board.
When the rape reports were publicized, the Stanford Department of Public Safety did not provide details about either assault and said the reporting parties declined police interviews. At the time, advocates for rape survivors said that reflected students’ low confidence in Stanford’s sexual-assault response, pointing to a 2019 university-commissioned survey that found nearly 40% of undergraduate women experienced nonconsensual sexual contact and did not turn to the school for help.
Students led a campus march after the second rape report, calling for more counseling support for survivors, better training for incoming students and the swift removal of students and staff who commit sexual assault. The march organizer, Sexual Violence Free Stanford, reaffirmed those demands Wednesday and said their protest “was not for one survivor, but for all survivors that remain unheard, undervalued, and continually victimized on Stanford’s campus.”
“Sexual Violence Free Stanford will continue to, and always, believe survivors,” the group said in a statement.
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, a prominent critic of the school’s response to sexual violence who has been at the forefront of reform efforts, called false reports “extremely rare” and voiced concern that Gries’ case could deter other women from coming forward with legitimate sexual assault reports.
“This case is very unfortunate,” Dauber said. “But it doesn’t change the fact that 40% of female undergraduate students experience sexual violence during their four years at Stanford, and that Stanford’s response to that epidemic of violence is completely inadequate.”
Harman said her office discussed the potential chilling effect on sexual assault reporting from charging Gries but concluded they could not ignore the impact of the false reports that spread fear across campus and cost upward of $300,000 in investigative and increased security expenses.
“When we looked at this situation, it ultimately landed on the reality that Jennifer Gries wronged a lot of people,” Harman said. “She wronged sexual assault victims, she wronged all the students who were afraid, all their parents, cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars, and inflicted great harm on the victim of her lies.”
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