A former UC Berkeley student is accusing members of the university’s football team and coaching staff of sexual harassment.
Paige Cornelius posted the detailed accusations on her Facebook page Wednesday, saying they happened while she was working for the team’s Sports Medicine program last season.
The Facebook post, which has over 700 shares, describes the alleged “lewd” remarks made by members of the California Golden Bears football team as well as the “persistent” messages from the team’s coaching staff, including one member of the coaching staff allegedly telling her she’d get fired if she didn’t have sex with him.
Cornelius wrote she was “medically withdrawn from school, seeking intensive therapy and psychiatry for the post-traumatic stress syndrome and anxiety that happened from the time I spent working for the Cal Football team.”
Cal Atheletics said Wednesday in a statement that it does not have its own conduct process or investigates cases on its own. The allegations were turned to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.
“Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided. Such allegations against students remain private regardless of the outcome, under UC policy and federal law regarding student records, the sports program said.
On Thursday, Athletic Director Jim Knowlton sent a letter to supporters of the Cal Athletics program, addressing the allegations.
“We will support the imposition of appropriate consequences as required by the outcome of that inquiry. We believe in a culture that fosters dignity and respect. The alleged actions run completely counter to the core values of Cal Athletics and our University,” the letter read.
“Through formal training sessions for coaches, staff and student-athletes, we have been clear and consistent about our refusal to tolerate this most egregious form of misconduct. If necessary, we will do more,” the letter continued.
Cornelius continued to be outspoken on social media after her Facebook post.
On Instagram, she asked anyone who has been sexually harassed by any Cal Athletics staff or athletes to contact her, saying that her “legal team wants to have the best case possible.”
Read Cal Athletics’ full statement below:
“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media. As is our policy when such assertions are made, we have immediately referred the matter to the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, which is responsible for investigating such assertions. These allegations go against the very core of our values.
Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. All of those associated with the department are expected to maintain ethical standards at all times. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center for confidential support, and other campus resources.
Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas.
While we can discuss our process for handling these matters, we generally cannot address any specific case. Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided. Such allegations against students remain private regardless of the outcome, under UC policy and federal law regarding student records.
Campus prevention and response efforts have increased in recent years. All university staff and all students are required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training. In addition, the athletic department sponsors supplementary formal training for coaches, staff and student-athletes in sexual violence awareness and prevention, bystander intervention, and campus reporting procedures.”
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