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article imageEllis, Warriors named in sexual harassment suit

By John Santilly     Dec 22, 2011 in Sports
Oakland - A former employee for the NBA's Golden State Warriors has filed sexual harassment charges against team captain, Monta Ellis, alleging the star guard sent her inappropriate text messages, including a photo of his genitalia during the 2010-2011 NBA season.
Erika Ross Smith, who also cited the Golden State Warriors in her lawsuit, claims that Ellis sent her several dozens of text messages from November 2010 through January while she worked for the team's community relations department.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Smith's attorney Burt Boltuch presented media with a photograph of male genitalia that is believed to have been sent from Ellis' cell phone. The Associated Press reports:
"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."
"She was embarrassed. She was intimidated. She felt scared and helpless," Boltuch told media. "[W]hy was my client's job duties removed and nothing happened to Mr. Ellis?"
Warriors team president and chief executive officer Rick Welts emphasized that they are taking the allegations of sexual harassment very 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. "The Warriors have never taken any action against the plaintiff for any inappropriate reason, and we deny the allegations she is making."
The lawsuit claims that the lewd photo was allegedly sent to Smith on December 17, 2010, one day after Ellis complained to team executives about her job performance. It also claims that the team changed Smith's job description and subsequently fired her following complaints from both Ellis and his wife, Juanika Ellis.
"I was treated unfairly. I was let go," Smith said at the news conference. "It wasn't my fault that I was let go."
Smith has held similar community relations positions, previously for the Washington Wizards and the Phoenix Suns, and believes she may now be blacklisted in NBA circles.
When reached for comment at a charity event in Alameda by KTVU-TV, Ellis stated only that the team had responded.
Last season, Ellis led Golden State in scoring with 24.1 points per game and was voted team captain less than a week ago by coaches and teammates, along with Stephen Curry and David Lee.
The 26-year old native of Jackson, Missouri is in the third year of a $66-million, six-year deal with the Warriors.
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