Paige Elizabeth Cornelius, a former student at the University of California, has gone public with allegations against a football coach and Golden Bears players. According to Cornelius, who has since left the university after her allegations were ignored, she was to subjected “ruthless, endless and persistent” sexual harassment.
Cornelius said in a Facebook post that the harassment took place while she was working for the football team’s sports medicine unit.
“My first day at work I was excited, I love being in an athletic atmosphere, and I had always been a huge Cal fan. 6:30 AM rolls up, and I am already on the field as the players start to come out. Maybe because I am a new face in the sports medicine squad, but maybe for other reasons, I was being stared at up and down, by coaches and payers alike. Hours after practice my Instagram begins to blow up, DM’s with creepy messages, asking me to come over, inviting me to parties,” Cornelius wrote.
“I’m in college this is normal, or what has been normalized, and I expected to get this from the players. What I did not expect was the ruthless, endless, and persistent sex harassment from the coaches. Practices are cold in the morning, so I was wearing black leggings. I turn around and three coaches are in a huddle staring at my butt. I did not know what to do, I was so embarrassed. I am a financial aid student, I am here to make money not to be some object to look at. To prove my worth, and that I was not just some object, I was coming in early and leaving late, and never missed a shift.”
Cal has since responded to the allegations.
“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media,” Cal’s statement read, via ESPN.com. “Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided.
“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.”
Here starts the issues that truly kept me up at night and made me dread going to practice. I would hold water and gatorade bottles at practice, and one coach would only come up to me, out of all the other employees, no matter what side of the field I was on. He would stare at me, wink, and ask me to guess what he wanted. He would grab my arm and look at me with knowing eyes, and I would get so scared I would toss a bottle at him and runaway.
These harassments continued into the summer, when a new coach arrived. He somehow knew my name the next day at practice, and would corner me in the tunnel entrance to field, asking me deeply personal questions, like if I had a boyfriend and what my “type” is. He would not leave me alone at practice, following me around to each drill, making remarks on how I looked that day. To no surprise, he found me on Instagram, and starting messaging me, for which then I blocked him. One day after practice, I realized he was following me home, as he was supposed to be going in the opposite direction, but was keeping a close pace behind me before he caught up to me outside my front door. He asked me what I was doing that weekend, and that we should go to the pool, because “I would look amazing in a bikini”. This coach is still employed by Cal Football, just to make that clear.
Another day, another coach found my Instagram, and liked all the pictures where I was wearing a bathing suit, even from years past. A player had given him my name, snapchat, and basically all forms of contact. When I did not reply to his messages, he would try to humiliate me in front of the players, yelling at me to do a job I was already doing. He would get especially upset when a player would talk to me, like he had formed some sort of territory over me.
You can read the full post below:
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Cornelius says that the football coach who subjected her to the harassment is still a member of the Golden Bears staff.