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Stanford University clears math professor who wrestlers say ogled them in the locker room

The staffer "was alleged to have showered in unnecessarily close proximity to members of the wrestling team in the locker room."
The Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, in 2016.
The Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, in 2016.David Madison / Getty Images file

A Stanford University professor accused of ogling wrestlers in the locker room years ago was cleared Friday after a five-month internal investigation.

"While the investigation acknowledges that some conduct of the individual in the period up to 2010 may have made wrestlers uncomfortable, it concludes there is not sufficient evidence that a violation of Stanford's sexual harassment policy occurred," the university said in a statement.

Investigators from the school's Title IX office reached their conclusion after interviewing more than 30 former and currents wrestlers and coaches.

Among other things, the Stanford employee "was alleged to have showered in unnecessarily close proximity to members of the wrestling team in the locker room that was open to the Stanford community, and to have engaged in other non-physical interactions, such as staring, that made some wrestlers uncomfortable."

But there was no evidence that the staffer, who was not identified by name or job description in the Stanford statement, ever "touched any wrestler or said anything sexually inappropriate to any wrestler."

The allegations were first revealed by The Mercury News, which identified the accused as 63-year-old Hung Le, a math lecturer. He did not respond to an email from NBC News for comment and it was unclear if he had a lawyer.

In The Mercury News article, however, Le denied engaging in any "improper behavior."

“I am shocked some of the wrestlers said they were uncomfortable,” he told the paper. “No one ever said anything to me.”

The allegations echo the accounts of former wrestlers at The Ohio State University, whose complaints about a "sexually exploitative atmosphere" at their training center and alleged abuse by late team doctor Richard Strauss are currently under investigation.

Just as at Ohio State, some of the Stanford wrestlers claimed their coaches knew what was going on but did nothing to stop the alleged ogler.

Michael DiSabato, right, speaks with other victims of former Ohio State team doctor Dr. Richard Strauss, at the university's board of trustees meeting on Nov. 16, 2018 in Columbus.Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch via AP

"I felt pretty exposed and pretty unprotected by the folks who were supposed to be" looking out for them, former wrestler Josh Brown told the Mercury News. “Any given day where that happened would be the worst day.”

Brown hung up the phone when a NBC News reporter called for comment after Stanford released its findings.

In an earlier statement, Stanford spokesman E.J. Miranda confirmed they were probing “allegations raised by some former wrestling team members regarding conduct in a locker room used by the team during their time at Stanford a number of years ago.”

“The allegations concern non-physical interactions alleged to have occurred over a period of several years up to 2010,” he said.

Stanford had previously investigated “similar allegations” involving the same worker that were reported to the university in 2010, the spokesman said.

“That investigation found that no violation of the university’s sexual harassment policy had occurred,” he said. “The university opened a new investigation this summer after receiving further allegations regarding the same period of time.”

The allegations against Le emerged after a former Stanford wrestler expressed concern about him being on the board of the school’s youth team, the Cardinal Wrestling Club, from which he resigned in June, The Mercury News reported.

There have been no allegations of Le doing anything inappropriate with underage wrestlers, the university said. But the paper reported that Le has been affiliated with the Stanford wrestling program for 25 years.

Among other things, according to the paper, Le was listed as a “Friend of Stanford Wrestling” in media guides, ran fundraisers for the team, and balanced the books for the youth team.

But Le was a “running joke” with the wrestlers, Matt Gentry, who was Stanford’s 2004 NCAA champ and a two time Canadian Olympian, told the Mercury News. He, too, did not return a call from NBC News for comment.

Former Stanford wrestling coaches interviewed by the paper, however, said they never heard any specific complaints about Le.

Mike DiSabato, the whistleblowing former Ohio State wrestler whose allegations about Strauss sparked that investigation, said he was not surprised by the Stanford story and said he expects more athletes from schools across the country to start coming forward.

"The floodgates are open," he told NBC News. "The Trojan Horse is inside the gates and we're heading to the Colosseum to free the slaves."