Former Community Relations Director Is Suing Monta Ellis & The Golden State Warriors For Harassment
Rucuss staffDecember 22, 2011
The former director of community relations for the Golden State Warriors has filed a lawsuit against Monta Ellis and the organization for alleged sexual harassment.
Erika Ross Smith alleges in the lawsuit that Ellis sent her multiple unwanted explicit text messages. The messages were sometimes sent “several times in a single day, late at night, or in the early morning hours” during her time as the team’s director of community relations.
The first batch of text messages were allegedly sent by Ellis from a secret phone his wife didn’t know about starting in November of 2010. The NBA player allegedly sent multiple inappropriate text messages, including a picture of his penis last Decemeber, with messages like “Hey Sexy” and “I want to be with you.”
Smith was eventually fired in January after Ellis’ wife Juanika found out about the text messages and complained to team executives, according to the lawsuit. Smith’s attorney Burton Boltuch said his client was initially afraid to speak out because Ellis is a star on the team and they wouldn’t do anything about the situation.
“On a micro level, my client has endured unwanted harassment, has suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress and trauma,” Boltuch said at a news conference in his Oakland office. “On a macro level, this type of conduct, especially in the sports world, must stop.”
Smith said Ellis’ wife called her on the phone and told her that she knew about the “secret phone” Ellis used to text her. Juanika believes Smith was the one who initiated the texting with her husband. Smith claims Juanika allegedly pushed her against a wall.
“They offered her what I believe is a bribe,” Boltuch said about an incident that happened before she was fired. “They said, ‘It’d be best if you resign and we’ll give you some money.’ She rejected it.”
Boltuch said Smith was eventually fired after she went to human resources to inform the department that a local reporter had asked her whether Ellis was stalking her. She also denies that the relationship was consensual, as the Warriors allege in their statement.
“When we were made aware of a consensual relationship between Mr. Ellis and the plaintiff, we did what an organization should do: We told both to stop promptly, directly and fairly,” the team’s president and chief operating officer, Rick Welts, said in a statement read to reporters in Oakland. “The Warriors have never taken any action against the plaintiff for any inappropriate reason, and we deny the allegations she is making.”
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