US Chess Federation investigates grandmaster following accusations of sexual misconduct

Chess Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez at the 2016 Pan-American championship.

(CNN)A chess grandmaster is under investigation by the game's governing body in the US following accusations of sexual misconduct, according to the US Chess Federation.

Two formal complaints were received last September by the federation regarding conduct by Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez and the investigation "is ongoing," the organization stated Thursday, adding that Ramirez's membership has been suspended.
The announcement comes after two-time US women's chess champion Jennifer Shahade posted on social media on February 15, "Time's up," accompanied by a two-page statement saying she was assaulted by Ramirez two times "9 and 10 years ago."
    Shahade wrote that she was speaking out now after other women had approached her with their own accounts of abuse by Ramirez.
      CNN has reached out to Ramirez for comment about the accusations through his lawyer Albert S. Watkins, who replied, "I have been directed to respect the confidentiality I was advised would purportedly attach to pending investigative undertakings."
        The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the accusations, quoted Watkins as saying, "At some point we are all compelled to take pause and reflect on the reality that unsubstantiated, temporally aged, and concurrent use of social media to incite a 'Me Too' call-to-arms runs afoul of every constitutional safeguard we have always held so dear.
        "Superimposing today's mores on erroneous recitals of acts of yesteryear is a recipe for disaster for both the accused and the accuser."
          Shahade told CNN she had notified the US Chess Federation and the prominent Saint Louis Chess Club -- where Ramirez served as a resident Grandmaster -- of the alleged transgressions in 2020.
          She again reported concerns about Ramirez in 2021 after learning of a separate allegation from a fellow chess player, she said.
          Since her tweet last month, Shahade told the Wall Street Journal and CNN that other women have told her about alleged experiences of abuse by Ramirez.
          US Chess said it "strongly respects the right of alleged victims to control when and to whom they tell their story.
          However, because US Chess did not receive complaints from, or sufficient information regarding, the allegations of the other women referenced in the WSJ article, we have not had the opportunity to investigate and consider those additional allegations. That process is underway."

          'New chess era'

          Ramirez has resigned from his post at the Saint Louis Chess Club, the club confirmed in a statement to CNN on Thursday.
          The Saint Louis Chess Club said that it received "no reports whatsoever" of any alleged inappropriate conduct by Ramirez that occurred while he was employed there.
          It confirmed that in October 2020, Shahade brought an allegation that Ramirez "had engaged in inappropriate behavior with female chess players" years before being employed there.
          However, the Saint Louis Chess Club said it was unable to initiate an investigation into Ramirez due to the individuals not being identified.
          In September 2022, the club received a report from a woman, who alleged she had experienced inappropriate conduct from Ramirez "more than 10 years prior to his employment," as well as other unidentified women.
          As a result of the allegations the Saint Louis Chess Club said it retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation.
          The chess club added that following his resignation, the investigator it retained contacted Ramirez's attorney for an interview with him, but did not receive a response.
          Ramirez had been a chess coach with Saint Louis University since the inception of the school's chess program in 2016.
          A university spokesperson told CNN Thursday: "On February 16, at our request, the St. Louis Chess Club removed Ramirez as SLU's coach. They have since assigned an interim coach to lead the team."
          Shahade told CNN Thursday that she was "relieved to hear Alejandro Ramirez resigned from the chess club and SLU. It is high time for a new chess era where we do all we can to make women, girls and all children feel fully safe and welcome."
            CNN has reached out to the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for comment.
            According to the Saint Louis Chess Club website, Ramirez was a chess prodigy and a FIDE Master when he was 9 years old. Ramirez earned his Grandmaster title by the age of 15.