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The New York Mets quietly fired their major league hitting coordinator, Ryan Ellis, last month after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against him by three female employees.
However, according to The Athletic, those three female employees alerted the Mets to those incidents over two years ago.
A new report from The Athletic details how in the summer of 2018, three women went to the Mets employee relations manager, who was then Aubrey Wechsler, with serious complaints about Ellis' professional conduct. In a statement released to The Athletic, the Mets acknowledged that they only fired Ellis after receiving "new information" about the complaints on Jan. 19 — the same day they fired former GM Jared Porter for repeatedly sending unwanted text messages to a female reporter.
“On January 19 of this year, following the termination of Jared Porter, we received new information regarding conduct of the disciplined employee in the 2017-2018 timeframe. We immediately commenced a new investigation and terminated the employee on January 22 for violating company policy and failure to meet the Mets’ standards for professionalism and personal conduct.”
Complaints about suggestive comments, texts and phone calls
The Athletic spoke with three women who say they brought their complaints about Ellis directly to Wechsler, who was part of the Mets human resources department at the time, in the summer of 2018. At that time, Ellis was serving as the Mets' hitting performance coordinator.
One woman alleges that Ellis told her “I stare at your ass all the time. If only I could have 15 minutes alone with you," which she wrote in her journal and brought to her meeting with Wechsler. She also told The Athletic that Ellis said he wanted “to put her up against a wall.”
A second woman ended a brief sexual relationship with Ellis in 2017, and allegedly received unwanted and sexually suggestive text messages from him for months afterward. This woman told The Athletic that she disclosed her relationship with Ellis to Wechsler when she met with her, and showed Wechsler at least one of the many text messages she received.
A third woman first went to her supervisor with complaints about Ellis' lewd comments to her and others, and later went directly to Wechsler to share that Ellis had been making comments to her and other "low-level female employees." She also shared that Ellis would call her late at night and ask if her boyfriend was home.
Ellis not fired until "new information" came to light
In a statement to The Athletic, the Mets said they investigated and disciplined Ellis at the time, but only appeared to acknowledge receiving one complaint about his behavior.
“In July 2018, a complaint regarding inappropriate conduct by a Mets employee was brought to the attention of Mets management at that time. The organization initiated an investigation and, as a result, the employee was disciplined, put into a probationary status, and ordered into counseling. We had not received previous or subsequent complaints about this employee.”
The Mets say they fired Ellis in January after receiving "new information regarding the conduct of the disciplined employee," but they wouldn't reveal what that new information was.
According to The Athletic, the Mets also investigated former manager Mickey Callaway during the summer of 2018. Callaway has been accused of similar behavior — lewd comments, persistent text messages and photos that were sexual in nature — while he was with the Mets and two other teams. The Mets have declined to share any information about the investigation into Callaway or whether he was disciplined. Callway is currently suspended from his job as the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels while they investigate the allegations of sexual harassment.
Mets defend investigation into Ellis' behavior
When asked about the initial investigation, the Mets defended Weschler's handling of the situation and say they believed they were investigated "properly." But as the three women told The Athletic, that doesn't check out with their experience.
The first woman who alerted the Mets about Ellis said that Wechsler called her about two weeks after they first spoke and told her the investigation of him was complete. Wechsler would not disclose any more information. The woman who kept a journal says she never again heard from anyone from the Mets after speaking with Wechsler. The woman who says she got lewd texts and pictures via Snapchat did not hear from anyone with the team until last month. She says Wechsler called her and said the club had “new information” and was reopening its investigation of Ellis. “They were asking about the relationship part. They weren’t really interested in the harassment. It was about they caught him in a lie,” she says.
Even though the Mets say that they believe the claims against Ellis were investigated "properly" back in 2018, The Athletic reported that they've recently made changes to how sexual harassment allegations will be reported and investigated. Employees who experience this behavior can lodge complaints with HR and the legal department, but they can now also call an external hotline. They do not have to identify themselves, but it's not clear if the Mets will still investigate these complaints internally, or if they will outsource these investigations to a third party.
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