GM Alejandro Ramirez Is Under Investigation for Sexual Abuse
“Time’s up.” tweeted WGM Jennifer Shahade on Wednesday the 15th of February, revealing that GM Alejandro Ramirez is currently under multiple investigations for sexual misconduct, including a minor. Her story of harassment encouraged more women to speak up with the US Chess and the Saint Louis Chess Club giving a “no comment” statement.
Two-time United States Women’s Champion, Author, and Poker player Jennifer Shahade shared her story of harassment from the 34-year-old Costa Rican-American grandmaster, coach, and commentator, Alejandro Ramirez, revealing that he is under multiple investigations for sexual misconduct, including a minor.
Jennifer was a commentator for top-level chess events held at the Saint Louis Chess Club alongside Ramirez and in her tweet she comments on that as well: “The road to investigation and potential consequences has been a very stressful process. You may have noticed I’ve taken a major step back from commentary as this plays out. I’ve filled the time with poker, writing, and promoting girls in chess. And yet a lot of that work to make chess more inclusive is futile if we cannot make crystal clear that the safety of women, girls, and children is of the highest priority. And that’s why I’m speaking out now. Thanks for your support and patience for more details.”
“Unfortunately I never had any evidence against him, but a lot of encounters with him and members of the US womens’ team over the years made me uncomfortable and rose suspicions. I am glad this is coming to light and I am very sorry I couldn’t do more than offer mental support.” Maria Emelianova responded to Jennifer’s tweet.
Alexandra Botez continued her tweet, proposing a anonymized database for denouncing the perpetrators: “One of the things that stuck out to me from Jennifer’s post was that having multiple victims come forward together created a safer environment as well increased the likelihood that there will be accountability. I think there is much to be done on this front. I have friends who’ve shared experiences in the chess scene that range from inappropriate to actual assault. They’ve stayed quiet for the reason above. These are not my stories to tell. What I can do though is try to make it easier and less risky for women to come forward. I am going to create an anonymized database. If something has happened to you in chess, yet you feel uncomfortable going public on your own, feel free to DM me. I will keep track of perpetrators. If the same name comes up several times, I will ask the girls if they’d like to be connected. They can then take further action if they’d like. My heart goes out to the victims, thank you @JenShahade for having the courage to come forward.”
Inspired by Jennifer’s courage, former U18 US Chess Champion Misha Vilenchuk publicly admitted that he knew, but didn’t know better back than.
Susan Polgar also tweeted, responding to those commenting with disbelief, misogyny and ignorance, adding: “When things were reported immediately, not only some chess officials covered things up, protected the perpetrators (and each other) & went after the victims… Yes, I know first hand because I spoke up about a convicted felon who went after underage girls (one of them was me). He was protected and I was humiliated, blacklisted, lost gigs, and money… Nothing happened to him and others who were reported. NOTHING! This is why today I mostly travel with personal security. I no longer feel safe at various chess events.”
Not only the chess community but also the poker community commented on Jennifer’s story, supporting her decision to go public.
Chess should be a safe space for all.