San Diego Youth Soccer Coach Sues Over Harassment

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A San Diego youth soccer coach is now suing the organization she worked for, claiming she was sexually harassed during her time there.

Karley Nelson claims that soon after being introduced at to staff at the San Diego Surf Soccer Club, her boss, Rob Becerra, called her and told her she’d “lost some butter” since the last time he’d seen her, indicating that she’d lost weight, and said her presence in the office might prevent her male co-workers from getting their work done. 

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Nelson’s lawsuit claims Becerra continued to make harassing comment during her year with the club.

Nelson repeatedly told Becerra his comments were inappropriate and reported his actions to his supervisors.

“(Nelson) did what we want women to do, which is to feel empowered and strong enough to say, ‘Hey, knock it off. What you’re doing is making me feel uncomfortable,’” said Josh Gruenberg, Nelson’s attorney. “And they didn’t do anything about it.”

Fracisco Loayza, the club’s attorney, denies Nelson’s claims, saying that Nelson’s concerns were promptly addressed.

“We’re not going to try this case in the media, and we look forward to clearing our client’s good name from these baseless allegations,” Loayza said. “Our client takes all harassment complaints seriously and doesn’t tolerate any inappropriate behavior in the workplace.”

Nelson left the soccer program at the University of New Mexico to take the job with the Surf Soccer club.

In her lawsuit, Nelson claims Becerra continued to make comments about her body and touched her without her permission despite objections.

During a match, Nelson claims Becerra put his arms around her and his cheek against hers to giver her coaching advice.

“It was incredibly uncomfortable and created a hostile work environment,” Nelson said in a recent interview, echoing allegations she made in her lawsuit. “I tried to limit interactions with him, whether in the workplace or over the phone.”

Becerra remained Nelson’s supervisor even after the complaints. Nelson was later told that Becerra would finish out the season and then be terminated, but not for sexual harassment. Nelson was later told that Becerra was never told about her complaints.

During a dinner, the supervisor she had confided in about Becerra’s actions told Nelson she was beautiful and that he, the supervisor, was still trying to convince his partner that she doesn’t have to worry about Nelson as romantic competition, Nelson’s lawsuit said.

Nelson resigned soon afterward.

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