Grandmaster Facing Sex Abuse Probe Attacks US Chess Federation

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Posted on: February 22, 2023, 04:41h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2023, 11:21h.

A lawyer for chess grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez claims an investigation into allegations of the player’s purported sexual misconduct is being mishandled.

Alejandro Ramirez, Jennifer Shahade
Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez, above, has been accused of sexual assault by chess champion and poker pro Jennifer Shahade and allegedly other women. His lawyer claims the US Chess investigation has been compromised. (Image: FIDE)

Costa Rican-American Ramirez was a grandmaster at just 15, the first Central American to achieve the title. Last year, he tied for first place at the 2022 US Masters. He also coaches the Saint Louis University chess team.

According to a social media post last week by the women’s chess champion and professional poker player Jennifer Shahade, Ramirez has been under investigation by the US Chess Federation (US Chess). The probe has been running since December after allegations against him by multiple women. Shahade also claims she was assaulted by Ramirez twice around a decade ago.

Ramirez’s attorney, Albert Watkins, has questioned the credentials and practices of the lawyer leading the US Chess probe.

Transparency Questioned

Ramirez was interviewed by Samantha Bobor, counsel for US Chess, on January 12, according to Watkins. Bobor told the grandmaster she would prepare a report of her findings, which she would share with him, adding that she was committed to transparency, according to Watkins.

But in a letter to Bobor seen by Casino.org, Watkins noted, “There has been no information provided by you or the [St. Louis] Chess Club to Mr. Ramirez regarding your findings or those of the Chess Club.”

The St Louis Chess Club is running a separate investigation into the Ramirez allegations.

Meanwhile, Watkins continued, “It is understood you have shared information, findings, and opinions with representatives or agents of the Chess Club.”

This amounted to a “compromise in the evidentiary integrity associated with the investigation,” according to Watkins, which has prompted the lawyer to launch his own investigation into the proceedings at US Chess.

The letter demands Bobor turn over all relevant information. That includes copies of Ramirez’s statement and her investigative report, plus correspondence with witnesses. It also requested details of all individuals or entities with whom she has allegedly shared her investigative findings.

“The wholesale deviation from your stated commitment to transparency is troubling and supports the proposition that you are not armed with the skillset to appropriately conduct your investigation such as to be of any value other than to trigger the public airing of erroneous innuendo and unsupported allegations,” Watkins asserted.

‘Damaging Folly’

Shahade is a two-time US Women’s Champion and former brand ambassador for PokerStars. She tweeted last week that she had chosen to speak out after “multiple women, independent of each other and with no knowledge of my own experience, approached me about their alleged abuse.”

Watkins said his client had been fully cooperative with the investigation, but has “has been compelled to endure the damaging folly associated with social media leaks relating to the erroneous allegations.”

US Chess declined to comment to Casino.org, other than to say it stood by its original official statement made last week.

“As an organization, we are committed to due process and for dealing with sensitive matters in a respectful and confidential manner,” read the statement. “At the conclusion of any process related to a formal complaint, both complainants and respondents are notified about the disposition of the matter, along with any sanctions that are imposed.”

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