An ex-Golden State Warriors employee has sued Monta Ellis and the pro basketball team, saying the star guard sent her unwanted sexually explicit text messages, including a photo of male genitalia he claimed was his, and that team officials forced her out when she came forward.
The team denied the allegations and said it would “vigorously defend” its reputation in court.
Erika Smith, who worked in the team’s community relations department between 2007 and August 2011, filed suit Wednesday in Alameda Superior Court.
She says that beginning in November 2010, Ellis, 26, sent her dozens of unsolicited personal texts late at night or early in the morning on a “secret” cellphone kept by the team’s equipment manager. Smith’s attorney, Burton Boltuch, told reporters that texts from the married player included phrases such as, “I want to be with you” and “Hey sexy.” He said Smith, who is unmarried and in her 30s, texted back, “What do you want” and “I am sleeping.”
But he said one message read, “I haven’t heard from you in a while.”
“She was confused,” Boltuch said. “She had to have a relationship with the players.”
On Dec. 17, 2010, Boltuch said, Ellis sent Smith a photo of a penis to his “horrified” client.
“I don’t care if it was his or not, we know it came from him, and he said it was his junk,” Boltuch said.
The lawsuit claims that after Smith rejected Ellis’ advances, he complained to the team about her job performance and she was sent a disciplinary letter. Boltuch said team officials began a “cover-up” to protect their star player when told about the harassment in January.
After rejecting an offer for Smith to resign with a sum of money, the team reduced her duties and later eliminated her job, the lawsuit says.
Smith said she has worked in the NBA for 14 years, with past stints for the Washington Wizards and the Phoenix Suns. She said it was “pretty hard” for her to come forward.
“Because I knew that my career was essentially, you know, over,” Smith said. “It would be hard to re-establish myself after working so hard throughout the years.”
Team President Rick Welts said in a statement that the team was “made aware of a consensual relationship” between Ellis and Smith, told both to stop, and had “never taken any action against the plaintiff for any inappropriate reason.”
Ellis, drafted in 2005, was the team’s top scorer last year and is a fan favorite. He signed a $66 million, six-year deal with the team in 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The former congressman, D-N.Y., resigned in May after admitting to sending a sexually explicit photo via Twitter to a Washington state woman.
The former NFL quarterback was investigated in 2010 for allegedly sexting a female sideline reporter for the New York Jets during the 2008 season.
The former congressman, R-N.Y., resigned in February after sending a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met via Craigslist.
The former Detroit mayor became embroiled in a sexting scandal in 2008 after a report of inappropriate messages between him and his female chief of staff between 2002 and 2003.
The golfer and his wife divorced in 2010 after his admission of infidelity and reports he sexted a porn actress.