Stanford assistant admissions director arrested for attempted murder, assault

University places James Shirvell, 26, on leave

UPDATE: James Shirvell pleaded not guilty on March 6 to four charges related to the alleged stabbing of his girlfriend. Read the story here.


A Stanford University assistant admissions director was booked into San Francisco County Jail on Sunday for alleged attempted murder, domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon, jail records show.

James Shirvell, 26, has worked in Stanford's admissions office since 2016, according to his LinkedIn page.

A fourth charge was added on Wednesday morning: assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury.

Spokesman E.J. Miranda said Wednesday that the university has placed Shirvell on leave and that he "will not be performing any admissions work.

"We are continuing to gather information on this matter to inform next steps," Miranda wrote in an email.

Robert Rueca, public information officer for the San Francisco Police Department, said that officers responded to a call around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 3, and took Shirvell into custody after determining he was involved in a domestic violence incident.

He said that Shirvell and the victim had a relationship but he could not provide further information due to confidentiality laws related to domestic violence cases.

NBC Bay Area reported, citing unnamed sources, that Shirvell allegedly stabbed a woman repeatedly while they were under the influence of LSD in a home in San Francisco.

Rueca said he could not confirm this.

The San Francisco District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The police department's special victims unit is leading the investigation into this case, Rueca said.

Shirvell started working at Stanford as an admissions counselor, then became an assistant admissions director in 2018, according to his LinkedIn. He was on the international and internal relations team there and served as Stanford's territory manager for China, according to a biography posted on a speakers page for a 2017 U.S.-China Higher Education Symposium. He graduated from Yale University in 2014, according to his LinkedIn.

Shirvell's name has been removed from Stanford's admissions webpage.

His bond has been set at $1 million and he remains in custody, according to jail records. A court date is set for Wednesday afternoon.


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20 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 6, 2019 at 9:25 am

How shocking he was working as an Admissions official at Stanford University! He was a violent person. How many you g applicants came into contact with this guy, with his power to help admit someone to a powerful university!?

12 people like this
Posted by Downtown parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 6, 2019 at 11:03 am

[Post removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2019 at 11:45 am

Best wishes to the victim. Since the charge is attempted murder instead of murder, I assume she is still alive. Will she recover from her injuries?

38 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 6, 2019 at 12:18 pm

PA Parent is a registered user.

@Downtown Parent

I am disappointed at your immediate moral outrage and assumption that this person with "his apparent unstable personality" who was a "violent person" was hired by Stanford. This is likely the first such violent outburst, caused by a bad LSD trip. He was a track & field athlete at Yale, he did summer research in Salvador on an infectious disease. He doesn't seem like a person who has been crashing peoples dreams. He made a HORRIBLE decision to take LSD, to be sure, and his life will never be the same. But before you condemn, do you know that there are Paly and Gunn students experimenting with LSD too. How about trying to prevent another tragedy like this?

31 people like this
Posted by MP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2019 at 12:28 pm

How do you become a Director at 26?

23 people like this
Posted by Leave No Stone Uncovered
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 6, 2019 at 12:39 pm

> This is likely the first such violent outburst, caused by a bad LSD trip. He was a track & field athlete at Yale, he did summer research in Salvador on an infectious disease. He doesn't seem like a person who has been crashing peoples dreams.

Are you absolutely sure of this? A lot of athletes & research interns have self-destructive tendencies or substance abuse issues.

Bad Acid? Possibly...but that will be for his attorney to clarify to the court. In the meantime, a very serious arrest.

> How do you become a Director at 26?

Connections & a university pedigree. Obviously unqualified.

12 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm

He's an Assistant director, not director. It's a position that only requires a B.A. and several years experience and isn't a high-level job. Usually conducts admissions reviews for a particular program and coordinates recruitment activities/programs.

16 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:05 pm

I realize that some of the above posters are just having fun playing "ain't it awful", but, some of the same folks have a seriously flawed view of reality. There is no way for you, Stanford, a psychiatrist, or any other person to predict who is going to commit a crime. There just isn't. Yes, I know people on TV fantasy action shows can do that. One of many differences between fantasy and reality.

22 people like this
Posted by PALY parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:40 pm

A bad LSD trip? You must be kidding me. And how is the fact some Gunn and PALY students experiment with this drug, justifying this case? No logical connection.
Apparently, the prospective employee screening process at Stanford has a lot of room for improvement. Unless, as somebody already mentioned, it's all about connections and entitlement.

18 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Annette is a registered user.

This is a thoroughly heartbreaking story that speaks of great loss and suffering for everyone involved. It also indicts our society in numerous ways. Drugs, weapons, violence, young lives in turmoil. If PA Parent is right (and there's no reason for someone to make such a statement if it were not true) and there are PALY and GUNN students experimenting with LSD, hopefully this story will serve as a very loud wake up call to address that as directly and firmly as possible.

Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2019 at 2:57 pm

[Post removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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