Athletic trainer resigns following sexual misconduct investigation


Author: Elwyn Pratt

Long-time Head Athletic Trainer John Sweet is no longer employed by the college. No official statement was issued regarding this matter, but an Occidental Weekly investigation found that Sweet left his job after several student-athletes reported sexual misconduct earlier this semester, according to students and administrators with knowledge of the situation.

“I resigned for personal reasons,” Sweet said in a phone interview with the Weekly. He had been a renowned athletic trainer at Occidental for nearly forty years.

Multiple athletes issued reports of impropriety in early February.

“[My testimonies] as well as others were significant enough to remove him from his position,” a student-athlete, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

A second student-athlete, who chose not to file an official complaint, further elaborated on Sweet’s alleged conduct.

“It would be one of those things where he’d be stretching me out, and I’d be like, ‘Something about this isn’t right,'” the student said. “His hands would get closer and closer to questionable spots. It got to the point where it would be really uncomfortable, but because he was in a position where he should be stretching you out and touching you, I didn’t really know if I should say anything, because I didn’t know if what he was doing was meant to be or not. It was almost as if he was testing the waters to see if I would acknowledge it.”

Human Resources Director Richard Ledwin confirmed that an investigation took place. “There was a report of impropriety, and [the Dean of Students Office] responded immediately,” Ledwin said. “The first interview was conducted on Feb. 8. Sweet was asked to stay home during the investigation. This separation ensures everyone’s safety and that due process is observed.”

Sweet’s subsequent resignation alleviated him of rights or obligations to the college, according to Ledwin.

“We did not have an opportunity to discuss the situation with Mr. Sweet. Ordinarily, this step would have been taken,” Ledwin added. “More importantly, the rights and requests of our complainants to keep this matter private and confidential – on a ‘need to know’ basis only – were observed. The investigation and follow up was quite thorough.”

The first student-athlete quoted was satisfied with the investigation. “Amidst the whole conversation of sexual abuse, whether it be faculty or students, the Dean of Students Office handled [the investigation] incredibly well,” the student said. “They went about it in the most professional manner, and they followed every requirement to the tee, including Title IX but also working with employee rights. This investigation should be proof that the college does have a focus on the well-being of its students, especially with regard to sexual misconduct.”

Director of Athletics Jaime Hoffman and Athletic Trainers Laura Friess and Taylor Woods did not wish to comment on the situation.

Director of Communications Jim Tranquada said he did not have specifics at time of publication.

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