Investigators say fired Cal coach admitted trying to 'trick' reporter into sex

- A University of California at Berkeley men's basketball coach admitted during a university investigation to making repeated sexual advances to a reporter covering the team and trying to trick her into his apartment one night after a game, according to a report released today.

University officials announced Monday that the school had fired assistant coach Yann Hufnagel over the misconduct allegations and released its findings after the victim had a chance to review a redacted version of
the report.
Hufnagel

is the latest in a string of UC Berkeley officials recently accused of sexual misconduct, following astronomy professor Geoff Marcy and law school dean Sujit Choudhry, a pattern that has prompted the university to pledge to improve its investigation and disciplinary practices.

In a Twitter post on Monday, Hufnagel called the allegations "fruitless" and said the focus should be on the basketball team, which will play its first NCAA tournament game against the University of Hawaii on Friday. 

"Right now, the only focus should be on our basketball team! My time to exonerate myself of a fruitless claim by a reporter will come," Hufnagel wrote.

But according to the university's report, when confronted with the allegations by a reporter working for an undisclosed media outlet, he admitted that in the course of their professional relationship he made repeated sexual advances and brought her to his apartment building where he tried to "trick" her into having sex with him.

The reporter was covering the Berkeley men's basketball team between November 2014 and May 2015 and needed to use Huffnagel as a source.

According to her statement, she would regularly send him text messages or tweets asking him to have coffee and he would respond with sexual advances.

At one point early in 2015, she attended a game in Berkeley and Hufnagel told her he would be available for coffee after the game.

She waited for 90 minutes, at which point he came out and insisted they go to a bar, according to her account.

They went to Jupiter, where he had two beers, and he told her he was too drunk to drive and asked her to drive him home. She refused and told him to get a cab, but he insisted and eventually she relented and took him
back.

He lived on a busy street and she couldn't pull over, so he opened the garage door and they pulled inside. Once inside the door closed behind them and he told her to park and that she was coming upstairs.

She refused, and they argued over whether they would have sex, according to the reporter.

But in his account he said that he had asked her to go out after the game a few days prior, acknowledging that he was making a sexual advance.

He told investigators that he didn't drink at all while they were at Jupiter and that she drank tea. He said that during the date he was thinking she was "the lamest girl ever."

He said they didn't go back to his apartment but simply drove her back to her parked car. He wasn't interested because he had realized she was "a total ditz" and "not a good fit."

Confronted with her allegations, he changed his story, acknowledging that they had gone back to his apartment but insisting they had taken his car. He tried to park in the garage, he said.

"With all candor, I was trying to trick her into going upstairs," he said, according to the complaint.

The woman reported the behavior in March after he provided her with bad information about a story, an action she took as potentially retaliatory for rebuffing his advances. She said she had played along with his behavior at times because she didn't see a viable alternative that would allow her to do her job.

The university opened an investigation into the allegations in July and concluded he had violated the school's sexual harassment policy.

The disclosure comes only days after the university's law school dean stepped down from his position after being sued for allegedly harassing his executive assistant for months. The university concluded in that case that he had violated the sexual harassment policy but kept him in his position, docking his pay 10 percent and ordering him to write a letter of apology.

The university was already under scrutiny for its handling of sexual harassment after Marcy, a noted astronomy professor, resigned amid allegations he had been sexually harassing students for a decade.

The attention surrounding the cases have prompted university officials to make public statements committing to taking action to improve handling of such cases in the future.
  
 

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