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Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

Ellis sued for alleged sexual harassment

AP

OAKLAND, California — A former Golden State Warriors employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against star guard Monta Ellis on Wednesday, alleging Ellis sent her unwanted texts that included a photo of his genitals.

In her lawsuit, which also names the team, Erika Ross Smith alleges Ellis began sending her several dozen explicit messages, sometimes several times a day, starting in November 2010 through January while she worked for the team's community relations department.

The messages included lines such as, "I want to be with you," and "Hey Sexy," and periodically asked her what she was wearing or doing, according to the lawsuit.

Smith would often reply with "What do you want?" or "I am sleeping," the lawsuit claims.

"On a micro level, my client has endured unwanted harassment, has suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress and trauma," her attorney, Burt 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.

"She was embarrassed. She was intimidated. She felt scared and helpless," Boltuch said.

The Warriors deny the allegations, saying Ellis and Smith had a "consensual relationship."

At a charity event in nearby Alameda, Ellis would only say that the team has responded.

"It's a legal matter, we'll let it play its course," Ellis told KTVU-TV. "Y'know, what happens, happens."

Boltuch said his client rejected Ellis' advances and feared that no one would believe her.

Boltuch also showed a photo of what he said was Ellis' genitalia that the guard allegedly sent to Smith's work-issued cellphone on Dec. 17, 2010, a day after he complained to the team about her job performance.

Rick Welts, the Warriors' president and chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that the organization takes all harassment allegations seriously.

"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," Welts said.



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