In a rare case, a Stanford University employee faces felony perjury and other charges after prosecutors said she lied about being raped twice by unknown Black men who matched the description of a co-worker against whom she made a sexual harassment complaint.
Jennifer Gries, 25, told nurses a Black man had attacked her in a campus garage in August. Two months later, she reported that she was assaulted by a Black man in a storage closet, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. The suspect also allegedly tried twice to apply for public money through the California Victim of Crimes Board, saying she was sexually assaulted.
She faces two felony counts of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of knowingly inducing another person to give false testimony pertaining to a crime, prosecutors said. She was arrested on Wednesday and faces jail time if convicted, officials said.
Prosecutors said Gries made up the story because she was angry with a co-worker. She told an acquaintance she was in a relationship with the co-worker and that he sexually assaulted her and that she became pregnant with his twins but suffered a miscarriage. However, officials said an investigation revealed Gries wasn’t pregnant at the time she said this took place.
In a statement, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Gries had made a recent sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker who fit the description of the alleged rapist. He called it a rare and deeply destructive crime.
“Our hearts go out to the falsely accused,” he said in a statement. “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.”
On Aug. 9, Gries told a nurse that as she was going to her car, a Black man in his late 20s “grabbed her, told her not to scream, and raped her” in a restroom at the Munger Residence Hall, prosecutors said. She told the nurse she didn’t want law enforcement to contact her but signed a consent acknowledging the nurse was required to notify law enforcement, officials said.
On Oct. 7, she told a nurse that a slender Black man, 6 feet tall and in his late 20s, grabbed her arm and raped her in a basement storage closet after she returned from lunch to her office, officials said.
The reports prompted a campuswide alert due to a possible community threat. The sexual assault examination kits were tested as “priority rushes” given the “extreme public safety risk of a potential sex offender,” officials said. But prosecutors said the lab test results were inconsistent with her story.
Gries wrote a letter apologizing to the actual victim in this case in January. She was put on a leave of absence as officials reviewed her employment.
“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,” Stanford University said. “We also want to emphasize that both false reports and outcomes such as this one are extremely rare in sexual assault cases. Sexual assault and other sexual offenses regrettably continue to be prevalent both at Stanford and in our broader society. 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.”
The student-run Stanford Daily reported Gries was a Neighborhood Housing Service Center Supervisor for Neighborhood S (Wilbur Hall).
Michele Dauber, a law professor who teaches a course called “One in Five: The Law, Politics, and Policy of Campus Sexual Assault,” told the Daily that 1% to 10% of all sexual assault reports are false. She told the newspaper that fewer than 3% of sexual violence survivors report it at Stanford.
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