Former Assistant Athletic Director Jason Gesser violated Washington State University's sexual harassment and misconduct policy when he made unwanted advances toward a former WSU volleyball player during an off-campus event in 2015, a university investigation has concluded.
Former WSU student Alyssa Wold-Bodeau filed a complaint in September alleging Gesser, a former star Cougar quarterback, persistantly tried to kiss her and allegedly groped her under her dress without her consent following a Cougar Athletic Fund event in Tumwater, Wash.
One day after Wold-Bodeau filed her complaint, WSU's Office for Equal Opportunity launched its investigation into the matter. The report, dated Oct. 8, was released Wednesday in response to a Nov. 14 public records request. It came a week after the estimated completion date, following multiple phone calls and emails to the records office and WSU officials.
Gesser's actions were found to be "sufficiently severe, persistent and pervasive," according to the report, which says "the conduct impacted (Wold-Bodeau) emotionally, created a lack of personal security for her, and created a hostile and offensive environment."
Gesser resigned from WSU a day after he learned of the investigation, citing recent circumstances in his private life that created a distraction for WSU.
During the same time period, another woman came forward alleging Gesser had exposed himself during a massage in 2015 at her Moscow-based place of employment. A police report was filed in that case, but no charges came forth.
When reached by phone Thursday, Gesser, 39, said he didn't want to discuss the findings.
"I'm done with this. I've been done with it for a long time and I'm moving forward," Gesser said.
Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communications at WSU, said in November the investigation's findings would be placed into Gesser's personnel file, which may be accessed by future potential employers.
Wold-Bodeau told investigators the advances started at a bar after the fundraiser and later became more persistent in her car and at her house. She said the incident made her feel "violated," "manipulated" and "dirty."
Wold-Bodeau detailed the events in June 2015 to three individuals, who also were interviewed by investigators. Gesser declined to participate in the investigation.
Bill Moos, who was director of the WSU Athletics Department from 2010 to 2017, reportedly was with Gesser and Wold-Bodeau at the bar prior to the alleged 2015 incident. Moos did not respond to an interview request from the Office for Equal Opportunity. He now serves as athletic director at the University of Nebraska.
Wold-Bodeau remained silent for years because she didn't want to hurt Gesser's family, with whom she had become very close, according to the report. Wold-Bodeau was the family's former nanny.
But that all changed after the Daily Evergreen published an article Sept. 13 detailing an investigation into secondhand sexual misconduct allegations involving Gesser. The investigation resulted in no findings, but it spurred Wold-Bodeau to file a complaint of her own.
"She decided that she wanted to report the incident she experienced to OEO because she did not want (Gesser) to subject anyone else to harassment or misconduct," according to the report.
When Wold-Bodeau's story was first publicized, she said she received an outpouring of support from others who had also experienced sexual harassment during the height of the #metoo movement.
"It was affirmation that I was doing the right thing, and it definitely helped me a lot to get through that first 24 hours because it was a lot for me to relive that over and over again," Wold-Bodeau told The Tribune in September. "Having the support is what made it bearable."
The report's only recommendation asks the Human Resources Services office and Gesser's former supervisors to review the findings for possible violations of other WSU policies.
Gesser became the Cougar quarterback in 1999 and led the team to two straight 10-win seasons in 2001-02. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in broadcast communications. He then played professionally for six years, and later coached football. He was hired at WSU in 2013.
Wold-Bodeau resides in Spokane and graduated from WSU in 2014. She was on the volleyball team but was not a student at the time of the Cougar Athletic Fund event where she met up with Gesser in June 2015.
Shortly after Gesser's resignation, Wold-Bodeau said she was glad he was no longer employed at the university.
"I ultimately am happy that no other girl will be hurt from his position of influence," she said in September.
Gesser seemed to acknowledge Wold-Bodeau in his resignation letter.
"To the young woman that I made feel uncomfortable, I respectfully have a different recollection of the situation you've described, but acknowledge that I should never have been in the situation in the first place, and I apologize," he said in the letter released Sept. 18. "I truly never meant to cause you harm."
Justyna Tomtas may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.