This story contains graphic references to rape and sexual assault.
A 25-year-old Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) employee has been criminally charged for willfully lying about being sexually assaulted twice on campus last year, according to court documents.
Jennifer Gries, a Neighborhood Housing Service Center Supervisor for Neighborhood S (Wilbur Hall), was charged by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s (DA) Office with two felony counts of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of knowingly lying to law enforcement. Gries was arrested Wednesday morning, according to a press release by the DA’s office.
On Aug. 9, Gries told county sexual assault forensic exam nurses that she had been attacked by a Black man in a campus garage, according to the DA’s press release. Two months later on Oct. 7, Gries reported that she was attacked again by a Black man and raped in a basement storage closet. The statement said that the DA office’s investigation said that Gries falsified the stories in order to take revenge on a co-worker. At the University, the reported assaults led to campus-wide safety alerts in part prompted a large campus protest.
In a statement released by the University Wednesday afternoon, Co-Chair of the Community Board on Public Safety Patrick Dunkley and Director of Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) Laura Wilson wrote that “These false reports are damaging, both for true survivors of sexual assault and for the members of our community who experienced fear and alarm from the reports.”
According to a copy of the felony complaint against Gries obtained by The Daily, Gries twice applied, under penalty of perjury, to get public money from the California Victim of Crimes Board (CalVCB), for being sexually assaulted. The document also alleges that she lied to medical staff, who told her that they were required to alert law enforcement to her assault claims.
“This is a rare and deeply destructive crime,” Santa Clara County District Attorney (DA) Jeffrey Rosen said in his office’s press release. “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.”
Law professor Michele Dauber, who teaches a course about sexual violence called “One in Five: The Law, Politics, and Policy of Campus Sexual Assault,” wrote in an email to The Daily that false reports are “very rare.” Only two to ten percent of all reports are found to be false, a rate similar to falsified reports of other crimes including murder. She said that fewer than 3% of sexual violence survivors report it at Stanford, and that the University’s “response to this epidemic is wholly inadequate, and nothing about these charges changes that.”
The Daily has reached out to the University for comment regarding their sexual violence reporting process.
Sofia Scarlat ’24, co-director of Sexual Violence Free Stanford (SVFree) and co-director of the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee in the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), said that while she felt “incredibly hurt” upon initially reading about the charges, which she said are “not the norm,” her organizations stand by their advocacy for better response to sexual violence at Stanford.
Scarlat said that there were “a number of things that went wrong” in the University’s responses to the reported rapes that still stand regardless of the allegations’ credibility. She called the University’s process for handling sexual violence “not survivor-centered.”
Ava DeConcini ’25, a student in the “One in Five” class, said that she had been more surprised by the original reports in August and October than the news that they were falsified, because stranger rape is statistically less common than acquaintance rape on college campuses.
“I feel like [Stanford was] really skirting around the issue, which is acquaintance rape, party rape,” DeConcini said. “It feels like Stanford was placing a lot of emphasis on this really freak random thing. It’s a bummer… there’s all of this hype around this really one-off bizarre scenario — like damn, how about the actual rapists who just keep doing it and don’t get convicted for that?”
The University has not yet responded to The Daily’s request for comment about their handling of other forms of rape on campus.
A 2019 campus climate survey suggested that 40% of female students have experienced some form of nonconsensual sexual contact at Stanford. In the university’s 130 year history, only two people have been expelled by Stanford for sexual assault.
On Aug. 9, Gries told the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurse at Valley Medical Center that she was raped by an unknown assistant in a restroom in Munger Graduate Residence after being physically restrained in the Wilbur parking garage, according to the DA’s press release. Gries reported that the assailant approached her when she was going to her car, grabbed her, told her not to scream, and raped her. According to an Aug. 10 AlertSU Community Crime Alert Update email, Gries told the nurse that the man was “6’ tall with a thin build, brown eyes, and a faded beard,” and a person she had seen “on campus before.”
On Oct. 7, Gries told a SART nurse at Stanford Hospital that she was coming back from lunch to her front office and an unknown male grabbed her arm, took to her to the basement into a storage closet and raped her, according to the DA’s press release. Though Gries told medical staff she did not want to speak to police for either forensic exam, according to the press release, SART nurses are mandatory reporters who must notify law enforcement of crimes.
Following Gries’ two reported rapes, the University sent emails to students and faculty, stating that the administration would re-examine security practices on campus such as installment of security cameras and temporary expansion of security staff from both the SUDPS and outside vendors. The Mercury News reported that the investigation and increased security measures cost the University upwards of $300,000.
According to the DA’s press release, both of Gries’ sexual assault examination kits were “analyzed as priority rushes given the extreme public safety risk of a potential sex offender” but their results “were not consistent with her story.”
Dauber said that the case may deter other victims from coming forward in the future with sexual assault reports and questioned the “judgment” of the district attorney in bringing charges “even given the troubling allegations.” She wrote that expanded access to rape kits in Santa Clara County had taken hard work and was now threatened.
“The risk of deterring victims from seeking needed medical care is too great,” Dauber wrote. “In my view it is very likely that the charges connected to obtaining the rape kit and the publicity about those charges generated by DA Rosen’s press release will chill victims from seeking forensic medical exams.”
According to the DA’s press release, an investigation by the SUDPS revealed that Gries had made sexual harassment complaints against a coworker who matched the description of the alleged rapist a few months before the rape reports and claimed to an acquaintance that they were in a romantic relationship. Gries claimed that she had become pregnant with, and miscarried, the man’s twins after he raped her. The investigation found that she was not pregnant at the time, and the DA’s office found that Gries had never been in a romantic relationship with the man.
The Daily has reached out to SUDPS for comment.
According to the Mercury News article, Gries also reportedly wrote to a co-worker in text messages that were reviewed by police that she wanted to make the man’s life “a living hell.” Gries stated that “[she’s] coming up with a plan. That way he’s shitting his pants for multiple days.”
According to the University’s statement, Gries is “on a leave of absence” and her employment is being reviewed.
Gries wrote a letter of apology to the man she’d falsely accused of rape during an interview with the DA investigator on Jan. 24, according to the district attorney’s press release. Gries will be arraigned in the Hall of Justice in San Jose and, if convicted, faces incarceration.
Scarlat encouraged students to continue supporting survivors and to “think critically about how Stanford might use this scenario… to protect Stanford as a school rather than protect survivors.”
“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,” Dunkley and Wilson wrote in the University’s statement.
Paraphrasing in this article has been updated to more accurately reflect Michele Dauber’s quotes.