Authorities charge woman with perjury after she claimed a Black man raped her

Evidence revealed that Jennifer Gries fabricated the claims against her Black male co-worker due to being angry because "she felt he gave her 'false intention' and turned her friends against her."

Loading the player...

Authorities have charged a staffer at Stanford University with perjury after she falsely claimed a Black man raped her on two occasions.

Jennifer Gries, a supervisor at the college’s Housing Services Center, was arrested Wednesday, facing two felony charges of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of inducing false testimony after allegedly making two false allegations of rape against a person who fit the description of a Black male co-worker. Gries claimed the alleged incidents happened on Stanford grounds, according to the complaint obtained by NBC News.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that research has shown between 2 percent and 8 percent of claims of sexual assault are false, and Black men have a long history of being falsely accused.

Stanford sexual assault case
Stanford University employee Jennifer Gries has been charged with perjury for allegedly lying about a sexual assault incident involving a Black male co-worker. (Photo: Sundry Photography/Adobe Stock)

“These false reports are damaging,” Stanford officials said in a statement Wednesday, NBC reported, “both for true survivors of sexual assault and for the members of our community who experienced fear and alarm from the reports.” 

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said the false assault reports, which did not name Gries specifically, “triggered campus-wide safety alerts and campus unrest” and sparked national media coverage and a student-led demonstration on campus following the second allegation.

A Stanford Public Safety Department investigation revealed that Gries, 25, filed a sexual harassment claim against a Black male co-worker in his 20s last March. She was ultimately moved to a different worksite after a human resources inquiry determined that her complaint was unfounded, according to a probable cause document.

On Aug. 9, she told sexual assault forensic exam nurses at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center that a Black man in his late 20s assaulted her in a campus bathroom. She allegedly declined to contact law enforcement and said the attacker was an “unknown assailant.”

Gries eventually contacted Stanford Public Safety to set up a meeting with a detective but “refused to disclose any more details about the alleged sexual assault” when they first met on Aug. 17. She claimed to know the alleged attacker and asserted there was no risk to the general public. 

Gries again reported being raped on campus on Oct. 7 — this time, she claimed, by a Black male in his late 20s in a basement storage closet.

She signed consent forms in both instances, according to the probable cause document, acknowledging that the nurses had to notify law enforcement about the alleged sexual assaults and provide her identity and a suspicious injury report.

Given the extreme public safety risk posed by a possible sex offender, Gries received “priority rushes” on analyzing her sexual assault examination kits, which “showed no male DNA detected in the genital or oral areas,” the probable cause document states.

Gries reportedly met with the detective again on Jan. 24, “admitted to lying about the rapes,” and penned an apology letter to “the victim” — the unidentified man at the center of both the human resources probe and the police investigation launched after her accusations.

The California Victim of Crimes Board, which pays for crime-related costs, rejected her two times for funding after she applied under penalty of perjury. The university’s Public Safety Department reportedly spent more than $300,000 looking into the fabricated complaints and hiring outside security.

Evidence revealed that Gries fabricated the stories due to being angry at a co-worker “because she felt he gave her ‘false intention’ and turned her friends against her,” the district attorney’s office said.

Gries’ co-worker said in a police interview that the HR investigation left him “scarred” and stressed while caring for his sick mother, who later died. The probable cause document states he gave proof of his whereabouts during the alleged assaults and a swab for DNA testing.

“I don’t feel human at all,” her colleague reportedly said, sharing that the false accusations left him feeling “disgusting,” according to NBC.

A district attorney spokesperson said Gries was released on $25,000 bail and has an arraignment scheduled for April 17. She faces five years in jail if convicted. 

She is on a leave of absence, and authorities shared in a Wednesday statement that they are reviewing her employment.

Advocates for preventing sexual violence on campus stated that the false reports should not obscure the fact that there is a problem at Stanford, which the student-led advocacy group Sexual Violence Free Stanford claims will affect 40 percent of “women-identified undergraduate students” while enrolled, citing a 2019 survey.

“This is a rare and deeply destructive crime,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the falsely accused. 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.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!