Recent Saint Mary’s Media Coverage Regarding Lawsuit

A message to the Saint Mary's Community

by Brother Thomas Jones, FSC, Interim President | December 18, 2023

Some of you may be aware of recent news coverage concerning allegations by a former Saint Mary’s student involving a sexual assault she experienced on our campus. The assault took place in September 2000 when the victim was a freshman here at the College. These news reports indicate a civil lawsuit has now been filed against Saint Mary’s with respect to the College’s response to the former student’s reporting of the sexual assault. 

The College takes the former student’s allegations seriously. Saint Mary’s College of California does not tolerate any type of sexual misconduct in our campus community. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the safety and well-being of all of our community members.

Over the past 23 years, Saint Mary’s has made a variety of improvements to not only comply with updated federal and state laws but to also offer comprehensive support, education, and training to protect all students and employees, including supporting the rights of both claimants and respondents in Title IX-related matters. Specifically, the role of Title IX within disciplinary hearings has changed significantly, leading to better protections and supportive measures for students, along with updated disciplinary processes.

The College is committed to advocating for its students and has implemented a multitude of changes to assist them. The following proactive steps have been made to provide resources, support, and educational programs to Saint Mary’s students and others in our campus community:

  • The hiring of our full-time Title IX Coordinator, whose role is to coordinate the College’s work to prevent, stop, and remedy any sex- or gender-based discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. 
  • The development of the Women’s Resource Center in 1999, which was subsequently expanded in 2019 to today’s Center for Women & Gender Equity.
  • The development and implementation of mandatory sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention training for all students, faculty, and staff––on an ongoing basis. 
  • Continual review and updating of College policies and procedures to comply with regulatory changes, as well as the changing social landscapes and demographics of our campus and national contexts, while aligning with best practices in the areas of Title IX and accountability processes.
  • The creation of an anonymous information/resource phone line and a confidential Campus Assault Response and Education Center
  • The development of a robust list of resources to enhance the work of our Title IX Support and Compliance Office.  
  • The development and launch of Gael Safe, a downloadable app for the Saint Mary’s community that offers safety features specific to the campus, including timely notifications of emergency incidents.

Should you have any questions or concerns, or to report incidents of harassment, discrimination, exploitation, or intimidation, please contact the Title IX Support and Compliance Office and our Title IX Coordinator, Jess Varga. You can visit her office in Ferroggiaro Hall, Room 200B or she can be reached at (925) 631-4055 or by email at Jess monitors her communications regularly and will respond at her earliest opportunity, noting the College’s upcoming winter closure from December 25, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

Our Department of Campus Safety is always available even during the upcoming winter closure. The campus community can contact Campus Safety at (925) 631-4282 or at Members of the campus community are also encouraged to visit the Gael Safe website and download the Gael Safe app onto their iPhone or Android devices.

I would like to reaffirm Saint Mary’s commitment to maintaining a welcoming campus environment that’s free from harassment, discrimination, exploitation, or intimidation. Please know that our Saint Mary’s Title IX Support and Compliance Office––and everyone here on our campus––cares deeply about the well-being of our students and campus community.  


Brother Thomas Jones, FSC

Interim President