Advances began quickly, ex-Morgan adviser says

January 21, 1995|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

The academic coordinator for athletes who has accused Morgan State football coach Ricky Diggs of sexual harassment at times raised her voice in anger and at times cried yesterday during 4 1/2 hours of testimony.

Elizabeth A. Stearns said she was demoted and forced out of the university in June 1993 after she lodged formal complaints of harassment against Diggs.

Stearns is suing the university and Diggs, charging sexual harassment and racial discrimination. She is asking for reinstatement with back pay. She also wants the university to institute a sexual harassment policy and formally reprimand Diggs, who is still the head football coach. She is no longer asking for $500,000 in damages, as was mistakenly reported in The Sun.

Her claims are unfounded, said the assistant attorney general defending Diggs and the school.

Yesterday, Stearns said Diggs began propositioning her in September 1991, about a month after she started working at Morgan. When she turned down his advances on road trips with the football team, he began calling her at home early in the morning.

"Coach Diggs would telephone me at home between 5:30 and 6 asking if I was alone; he would say that he

couldn't stop thinking about me," Stearns said. "I told Ricky it's not going to happen."

Like other witnesses this week, Stearns referred to profane comments that Diggs allegedly used repeatedly to refer to the way she dressed.

"The comments happened so frequently, almost every time I saw Coach Diggs," said Stearns, who was wearing a white blouse, dark vest, gray skirt and black flat shoes yesterday.

She said that when she reported Diggs' behavior to school officials in 1992: "They didn't get it. Nothing was being done."

But former Morgan athletic director and track coach Leonard Braxton testified yesterday that Stearns was experiencing "job-related frustration" and did not complain to him about constant sexual harassment by Diggs. Braxton left the school in November 1992, shortly before Stearns filed a formal harassment complaint with the school's lawyer.

"I questioned an institution founded on the foundation of protection and advancement of minorities, and I was a minority at this institution and I was getting shot at," Stearns said tearfully yesterday about her experience at the historically black university.

Lawyers for Diggs and the university are expected to cross-examine Stearns on Monday.

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