OAKLAND -- A salacious sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the Golden State Warriors and the team's former star player was settled out of court last month.
Erika Smith, a former community relations director for the team, agreed to a deal that ended litigation of a case in which she claimed, among other things, that Monta Ellis sent her a picture of his penis in a text message.
Smith was seeking monetary damages in the lawsuit in which she also claimed that team owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber fostered an improper sexual atmosphere within the organization and attempted to cover up Ellis' actions.
Details of the settlement agreement were not revealed Thursday as Smith's attorney said he was not allowed to discuss details. Neither team representatives nor Ellis' agent could be reached for comment.
"All I am allowed to say is the case is dismissed; you have to read into that what you want," said Burton Boltuch, Smith's attorney. "When you settle a case, you always dismiss it."
Boltuch said discussions with team attorneys about the lawsuit began soon after Ellis was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in March.
"He got traded, and discussions ensued," the attorney said.
In her lawsuit filed last December, Smith said she was fired from the team after she refused a financial settlement that was offered to her after it was revealed to team owners and executives that she had an ongoing relationship with Ellis. She has denied
At the time, Boltuch accused the organization of attempting to cover up the incident and chastised team owner Lacob for creating an atmosphere within the organization that was offensive to women.
The team responded in December saying that the lawsuit was baseless and accused Smith of simply trying to win money from the team with false accusations.
"The Warriors have never taken any action against the plaintiff for any inappropriate reason, and we deny the allegations she is making," team president Rick Welts said at the time. "We live in a litigious society in which lawsuits too frequently are driven by money and not the pursuit of justice."
Smith was hired by the Warriors in 2007 after working for about a decade for two other NBA franchises, the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns. As part of her duties, Smith worked closely with players, organizing their contacts with the community.
Smith claimed in her lawsuit that the Ellis harassment began in November 2010 when she began receiving sexually suggestive text messages from Ellis on her Warriors-issued cellphone. The messages were sent from a "secret cellphone" with a 601 area code that was kept by the team's equipment manager and registered to Ellis' grandmother, the lawsuit claimed.
According to the suit, the messages, about 61 spanning several months, where sent at odd hours and included Ellis, who is married, telling Smith, "i want to be with you" and several that began with "Hey Sexy." They also included questions asking Smith what she was wearing and what she was doing.
Smith, who is in her 30s and single, said that she always responded by texting, "what do you want" or "I am sleeping," her attorney said at the time the lawsuit was filed. Smith also told Ellis that she was not interested in having a relationship with him.
The text messages were finally discovered by team management in January after Ellis' wife, Juanika, saw them and accused Smith of stalking her husband and initiating the texts, Smith claimed in her lawsuit.
Juanika Ellis first called Smith and accused her of having an affair with her husband, the lawsuit states. A week later, Smith claimed, she was called into a meeting with the team's human resources director who accused her of texting Monta Ellis during off work hours.
The team ownership blamed Smith for initiating the texts and offered her a cash payment to resign, she claimed. Smith said in the lawsuit that she refused and was fired several months later after she notified team management that a reporter had called her asking questions about the text messages.
Boltuch said that Smith is not returning to the team.