Photo: Amy Osborne, Special To The Chronicle
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In a viral Facebook post last week, Paige Cornelius outlined the widespread harassment she claimed to face from members of the Cal football team and coaching staff in 2017. At the time, she worked as a sports medicine intern for the team.
Cornelius spoke to the “Today Show” Thursday morning in her first public interview since sharing the Facebook post. During the three-minute segment, she said a “toxic culture” persisted within the Cal football team.
A former intern with UC Berkeley’s football team took to Facebook last week and accused former members of the athletic department of sexual harassment and assault. Paige Cornelius speaks out in an exclusive interview to NBC’s @mollymhunter. pic.twitter.com/ERmuj9O1Us
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 28, 2019
“It’s not just in Hollywood. It’s always been in sports. And now it’s at Cal,” she said.
Cornelius also said “more than a dozen women” reached out to her after the Facebook post, detailing similar harassment at the hands of coaches and team members.
During the “Today Show” interview, Cornelius reiterated many of the claims she made on Facebook. The original post said a member of the Cal coaching staff threatened to fire Cornelius if she did not have sex with him. She also claimed players would routinely send her “creepy” Instagram messages, inviting her to parties and asking her to “come over.”
In one instance, Cornelius alleges a coach started following her home after practice, asked her what her weekend plans were, and invited her to go to a pool because she “would look amazing in a bikini.”
She also said a coach kissed her and pushed her against a wall in his office when she was “under the influence” late at night.
Cornelius said she has since medically withdrawn from UC Berkeley and is seeking intensive therapy for post-traumatic stress and anxiety.
Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said he and team leadership immediately referred the allegations to the campus’ Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination when they learned of the matter. The office is currently investigating.
The two volunteer assistant coaches Cornelius accused of the most graphic acts are no longer working with the team.
In a statement last week, Cal football head coach Justin Wilcox said: “First and foremost, we take these allegations extremely seriously. It’s very concerning to hear of any type of behavior that someone would be subject to in that way. It’s not something that we would tolerate at our university or in our football program. It’s something that is really tough to hear.”
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This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/paige-cornelius-today-cal-football-team-harassment-13724168.php.