December 21, 2011
Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis is being sued by a former Warriors employee for sexual harassment. Erika Ross Smith is also suing the club that employs Ellis, alleging that he harassed her during a three-month span that ran from November of 2010 to January of 2011, and that Ellis sent the accuser a series of Brett Favre-styled pictures that should implicate the high scoring guard.
Worse, as if that's possible, is the allegation that the Warriors front office was complicit in both protecting Ellis, and firing the accuser after she went to the team with the allegations. According to CSNBayArea.com's Matt Steinmetz, Golden State owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are mentioned in the suit, along with GM Larry Riley, which implies a series of Warriors-endorsed cover-ups that protected the star even as the NBA lockout prevented any discussions between a player and his team's employees and/or owner.
Smith's attorney held a press conference on Wednesday:
"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 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.
When questioned if the photo came from Ellis, Boltuch responded, "We know it came from him."
Ethan Sherwood Strauss of Warriors World got in touch with the accuser's legal representation on Tuesday, and this back and forth resulted:
ESS: "Can you give me any idea of a timeline for this, because I know you implicated Lacob and Guber?"
BB: "The text messages were from November 2010 to January 2011. The retaliation against my client started right there after, culminating in her termination in August."
ESS: "And why is her identity going to be secret until [Wednesday]?"
BB: "She'd rather be present to talk about it. She's very, very scared. It's a very traumatic thing for her."
Ellis is an All-Star level guard who was eighth in the NBA in scoring last season with a 24.1 points per game average. He credited his 2010 marriage to a Memphis-area policewoman with his breakout 2010-11 season, just as Warriors fans hoped to credit the Lacob and Guber ownership group with a change in the style of leadership that was lacking during Chris Cohan's embarrassing term as Golden State owner.
If these allegations prove to be true, or at the very least damning following the release of evidence sometime on Wednesday, then Ellis and the Warriors' new ownership (who have claimed that the "relationship" between Ellis and Smith was consensual) will have sullied themselves far worse in a 10-month run than Cohan managed during his 18 years of helming his former team.
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