The Wall Street Journal: 8 Women Accuse Ramirez Of Wrongdoing
Alejandro Ramirez. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The Wall Street Journal: 8 Women Accuse Ramirez Of Wrongdoing

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Eight women have accused GM Alejandro Ramirez of wrongdoing in an article published by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. In the newspaper, the women claim that Ramirez used his status in chess to put himself in positions of influence and make repeated unwanted sexual advances toward them since 2011.

The thoroughly researched story in The Wall Street Journal comes three weeks after WGM Jennifer Shahade's explosive tweet where she said that Ramirez had assaulted her twice and that other victims told her their own stories of alleged abuse. According to Shahade, within a few days, 10 other women from the chess community reached out to Shahade to say they had also been assaulted or harassed by Ramirez, according to the newspaper. 

The Wall Street Journal spoke to eight women, who presented similar stories of Ramirez becoming "physically aggressive as he forcibly kissed and groped them without their consent." According to The Journal, three were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged incidents, including one who told the newspaper that Ramirez "supplied her with vodka" before he coerced her.

One of the women told about her experience with Ramirez on the record. Claire Grothe worked as a program manager at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, located across the street from the Saint Louis Chess Club. She said she met Ramirez at a 2014 reception organized by the club. At an after-party at a nearby Italian bar, Grothe said she found herself in conversation with him toward the back by the restroom.

That's when she says that Mr. Ramirez grabbed her by the arm, pulled her into the restroom and pushed her up against a wall, where he forcibly kissed her and reached into her halter-neck dress to grope her breast. Ms. Grothe said she was able to push him off and leave.

Grothe said that Ramirez appeared at her desk at the Hall of Fame the next day and asked her out on a date. Grothe said that eventually the incident led her to leave the Chess Hall of Fame later that year.

Seven other women spoke to The Wall Street Journal anonymously. One of them told about an incident at a chess camp in 2011, when she was 15 and Ramirez was 23. 

One night, she said, he asked if she could bring toothpaste to his room. Once there, he shoved her against a counter and began forcibly kissing her even as she tried to turn her head away, she said.

In messages seen by The Journal, Ramirez wrote that he "tricked" her by asking for toothpaste and that he wanted to undress her and marry her. He also made a reference to researching the age of consent in her home state.

She said that Ramirez assaulted her again at tournaments over the following year. At one of them, she told the Wall Street Journal, they ended up in a hotel room alone and she said,

he got on top of her, pinned her to the bed and started kissing, groping and attempting to undress her before she could escape.

The Journal referred to two women saying Ramirez exploited shared living conditions, such as hotel rooms. The women said,

they awoke in the middle of the night to Mr. Ramirez groping them. One of them said that it occurred multiple times, including once in a house operated by St. Louis Chess Club. 

Another player told the newspaper about an incident at a team tournament when she was 16. Ramirez, who was one of the coaches, was around 26 at the time. The woman said it happened on the night of the closing ceremony, when Ramirez invited her and at least one other underage girl to his hotel room for celebratory drinks before the party.

Mr. Ramirez allegedly provided them with vodka and encouraged them to drink. Later that night, after the party, Mr. Ramirez led the 16-year-old back to his room, she said, and undressed her on his bed while she was visibly drunk. At that point, she added, he attempted to have sex with her, but she refused. He then initiated oral sex, when she says she wasn't in a position to consent to.

An important part of The Wall Street Journal's research went into U.S. Chess and the Saint Louis Chess Club. According to The Journal, allegations about Ramirez's conduct have been known to the chess bodies for several years.

The Journal has seen a letter from 2021 where a lawyer for the Saint Louis Chess Club wrote that it was aware of Shahade's allegation in 2020. Both the club and US Chess were informed in 2021 of allegations against Ramirez, including the abuse of a 15-year-old, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Journal. Ramirez was nonetheless awarded the job of coach for the U.S. women’s team at the World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India in 2022.

In response to an inquiry from the Wall Street Journal, clarified that we haven't "had a working relationship with Mr. Ramirez since 2013, and we internally agreed to not reconsider him for future work after first hearing allegations against him in 2019."

Yesterday, Ramirez resigned from the Saint Louis Chess Club. In a statement, he acknowledged that his continued affiliation with the club was "not presently in the best interests of the Club." His resignation came two days after being presented with a detailed list of the allegations against him by The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier, Ramirez was removed from coaching Saint Louis University’s chess team, a day after Shahade's tweet. He was also removed from the FIDE Athletes Commission by the decision of the FIDE Council.

Ramirez is a 34-year-old grandmaster, coach, and commentator. He was born in Costa Rica and switched to representing the U.S. in international competition in 2011. As one of the regular commentators at the Saint Louis Chess Club at the time, he interviewed GM Hans Niemann in the midst of the cheating scandal that also involved GM Magnus Carlsen.

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