Warriors' Monta Ellis accused of sexual harassment
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- With the season about to start, the Golden State Warriors are in the middle of a crisis. Their star player, Monta Ellis, is being accused of sexual harassment. There is graphic evidence his accuser says is proof.
"I had daily interaction with the players, giving back to the community. I loved my job," said Erika Smith who claims she lost her job as community relations director for the Warriors after unwanted interaction with Ellis.
Smith says Ellis sexually harassed her. Wednesday she filed a civil suit against the star shooting guard and the team. Her attorney says the married Ellis sent Smith, a single East Bay woman, at least 61 text messages between Nov. 2010 and Dec. 2010 using a secret cellphone kept by the team's equipment manager.
"The texts were not work related. The texts unwelcome and harassing," said Smith's attorney, Burton Boltuch. "Most of the texts were sent late at night or in the wee hours of the morning."
According to the lawsuit, the messages had phrases like, 'Hey sexy' and 'I want to be with you,' and even included a picture of his genitals.
The lawsuit alleges after Ellis' wife found out and complained to the team, Smith's job duties were downgraded and she was eventually fired. She's suing the team for wrongful termination.
Asked how difficult it was for her to come forward, Smith said it was "pretty hard because I knew my career was essentially over; it would be hard to re-establish myself."
But the Warriors' president, Rick Welts, read a statement calling the relationship between Smith and Ellis consensual, and says the team denies her allegations. Welts says that when they found out about it, the team told both Ellis and his accuser to stop
"We live in a litigious society in which lawsuits too frequently are driven by money and not the pursuit of justice," said Welts. "We will vigorously defend the reputation of the Warriors' organization in the court."
Smith claims there was no relationship and that she was being sexually harassed.
At Everett and Jones BBQ, where the screens are always turned to sports, Warriors fans are withholding judgment.
"If it's true it's horrible what he did. If it's made up then it's horrible what the accuser has done," said Warriors' fan Eric Helmgren.
The season opener is on Christmas Day. This lawsuit could be a distraction for both the players and the fans.
golden state warriors, lawsuit, nba, carolyn tyler
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