BERKELEY (KRON) — An assistant UC Berkeley basketball coach has resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment, according to his lawyer.
Yann Hufnagel, who was involved in a seven-month sexual harassment investigation case, wanted to return as an assistant coach on the Cal basketball team, but has dropped his appeal, his attorney Mary McNamara said.
“The toxic environment at UC Berkeley has made it impossible for Mr. Hufnagel to rejoin the basketball team he loves, even if he is vindicated in full, as the facts would show,” McNamara said in a statement. “He needs to look out for the student-athletes he coached, as well as his own future.”
Head coach Cuonzo Martin sought Hufnagel’s termination on March 14 once a university investigation concluded he had violated the school’s sexual harassment policy.
“We have no comment. And, if you want the resignation letter you will need to contact him or his attorney,” the school said in a statement to KRON4.
“He’s loved by everybody, this is somebody with an unblemished record, a likable, decent human being, yeah he wants to go back”, Hufnagel’s attorney said last week.
Hufnagel engaged in mutual flirtation and the woman initiated it, the attorney said. According to his attorney last week, it was “no unwelcomed sexual innuendo.”
In early March, a documented report was released that stated Hufnagel acknowledged wanting to have sex with the victim, but that he did not think his behavior was inappropriate because she did not work for the university.
The victim was a woman who met informally with coaches, including Yann Hufnagel, as part of her job, the report said.
The victim said that she occasionally texted or tweeted Hufnagel to meet him for coffee in order to gather information pertaining to UC Berkeley’s men’s basketball team, according to the report.
Over a period of time, the woman received sexual harassment messages from Hufnagel on a weekly basis in an attempt to communicate for professional purposes, the report said.
The victim said that Hufnagel would frequently turn the text conversations into sexual innuendos, “he used his power.” The victim would recall that 90 percent of their text messages that occurred approximately once every two weeks were not welcomed by her, the report said.
But on Monday, McNamara, in a statement released by public relations firm Singer and Associates, said that new evidence demonstrated his innocence and vowed to fight his termination. McNamara said the reporter fabricated the story, demonstrated by a full record of text messages between the two.
Hufnagel’s resignation appears to end the challenge to his termination.
The scandal surfaced at a moment when UC Berkeley was still reeling from the resignation of law school dean Sujit Choudhry after a lawsuit revealed he had been sexually harassing his executive assistant for
months and was punished only with a 10 percent pay cut.
The university was already reviewing and reforming its sexual harassment policies after accusations that astronomy professor Geoff Marcy had been sexually harassing students for years.
The renewed attention expedited those efforts, and social sciences dean Carla Hesse was put in charge of making a comprehensive review of the university’s efforts to address sexual harassment.
Stay with KRON for updates.
Bay City News contributed to this report