Yann Hufnagel. Photo: CalBears
Yann Hufnagel. Photo: CalBears

Lawyers for Yann Hufnagel, the Cal assistant basketball coach who was relieved of his duties on March 14 following a finding that he had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, have presented the university with new evidence they say proves his innocence.

“The evidence shows this is not harassment,” said Mary McNamara of Swanson & McNamara. “I really believe the university will reach the correct decision.”

McNamara has presented the university with 900 text messages between Hufnagel and the reporter who filed the sexual harassment complaint. According to McNamara, the extensive text history shows “mutual flirtation,” not harassment. San Francisco-based crisis communications consultant Sam Singer and the lawyers released a handful of the messages to the media today.

In a statement issued today, the university questions why Hufnagel did not present the full text message archive during the investigation by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). 

“After initially providing about a dozen text messages to the investigation, he did follow-up with two additional emails and attachments — that and no more — the week after he met with an investigator,” the university statement reads. “There was nothing preventing him from submitting anything that he thought would support his position, and it remains unclear why he apparently withheld hundreds of text messages he now believes to be relevant.”

McNamara said that Hufnagel only presented the text messages he thought were at issue in the case. He did not have a lawyer representing him during the OPHD investigation, she said.

“He’s a practical fellow who responds to what’s in front of him,” McNamara said. “They asked very targeted questions. [The university] assumes Mr. Hufnagel knew what he was being accused of.”

The university issued a statement today explaining the review process in Hufnagel’s case.

“While the investigation [of the original complaint] is complete, Mr. Hufnagel has exercised his rights, provided to him under his employment contract, to have the proposed disciplinary measures evaluated as part of a ‘Skelly Review’.  One of the University’s deans is now leading that process, which includes a review of any material Mr. Hufnagel chooses to submit. Once the review is complete the dean will offer an assessment as to whether the current level of proposed discipline — termination of Mr. Hufnagel’s employment — is warranted.

“The campus expects the Skelly Review to be completed by the end of this week.”

According to McNamara, it was unusual for the university to issue its redacted report on the Hufnagel investigation before a review was completed.

“I’ve never seen that before,” she said. “What we’re doing is trying to rehabilitate Mr. Hufnagel’s reputation. I don’t think we’d be here if the university had followed its procedures.”

McNamara said Hufnagel would consider further action if he is not cleared in the university’s review.

“We’re looking at all available options,” she said.

UC Berkeley assistant basketball coach fired over claims of sexual harassment (03.14.16)
Berkeley law dean resigns after sexual harassment suit (03.11.15)
Berkeley school board gets annual bullying report (12.09.15)
BHS Stop Harassing takes campaign to Berkeley council (09.18.15)
Berkeley High anti-harassment student group wins award (06.12.15)
BHS students allege BUSD refused access to federal investigators over sexual harassment (05.15.15)

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...