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Accord in Abortion Lawsuit Disclosed

Courts: UC Berkeley paid $115,000 in 2000 to an assistant coach who alleged that her boss had tried to force her to end a pregnancy.

September 19, 2002|JESSICA M. SCULLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BERKELEY — UC Berkeley paid $115,000 to a former assistant women's basketball coach to settle a lawsuit in which she alleged that her boss had tried to coerce her into getting an abortion, according to a campus official.

The assistant coach, Sharrona Reaves, received the settlement in 2000 as a result of her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the university and its former head coach, Marianne Stanley, now coaching the Washington Mystics in the Women's National Basketball Assn.

The settlement was subject to a nondisclosure agreement but the Washington Post reported it this week.

Mike Smith, assistant chancellor for legal affairs at UC Berkeley, confirmed the settlement but would not comment on the details of the dispute.

Reaves, reached at her Nashville home, said the Post article about her deposition and settlement was accurate, but she would not discuss the case further, citing the nondisclosure agreement.

Stanley declined to comment Wednesday. She has denied trying to force an abortion, according to the Post.

Reaves, then known by her maiden name, Alexander, was an assistant basketball coach for Troy State University in Troy, Ala., in 1998 when Stanley recruited her for UC Berkeley's assistant coach position.

Stanley offered Reaves the job and she accepted it.

In her deposition, Reaves said she did not mention at the time that she was pregnant. Reaves reportedly told Stanley about her pregnancy later at a dinner before she had signed a contract, and offered to withdraw as a candidate.

Initially, Reaves alleged, Stanley was supportive of her staying but Stanley later told her the demands of the job would be too much for a pregnant woman.

Reaves contended that she told Stanley she had scheduled an abortion at an Atlanta clinic and that Stanley then paid for the trip and offered to pay for the abortion, according to the depositions quoted in the Post.

After talking to the child's father, whom she subsequently married, Reaves decided not to have an abortion. She said that she tried to convince Stanley she could do the job while pregnant, but that Stanley said it wouldn't be possible and asked for Reaves' resignation.

Stanley, in her deposition, said she had never encouraged Reaves to have an abortion, but she did not think a pregnant woman could do the job.

Both women testified that they later tried to resolve their differences but couldn't. Reaves alleged that Stanley fired her. Reaves, who now has two children, never again coached at the college level and said she thinks that the lawsuit may have hurt her chances of getting hired.

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