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Several Employees Allege Sexual Harassment At Luxury Rancho Palos Verdes Resort

RANCHO PALOS VERDES (CBSLA) – Eight current and former female employees of the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes have come forward with claims they were sexually harassed or sexual assaulted while working at the luxury resort.

Several Employees Allege Sexual Harassment At Luxury Rancho Palos Verdes Resort
Silvia Jasmin Sanchez speaks at a news conference in Hollywood regarding her lawsuit against Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Oct. 18, 2018. (CBS2)

The eight women held a news conference with the media Thursday morning in Hollywood to discuss the allegations.

One of those women, Silvia Jasmin Sanchez, told The Guardian newspaper this week that she was sexually harassed and assaulted by the resort's former loss prevention manager, Stephen Harrington. She filed a lawsuit against Terranea in September.

"A supervisor in the Terranea security team, began sending me sexually offensive text messages," Sanchez told reporters Thursday.

She told The Guardian that, in August 2016, after reporting Harrington's repeated sexual harassment to human resources, he cornered and sexually assaulted her in retaliation. He resigned his position in November of that year, the resort confirmed.

In May, a former dishwasher at the resort, Sandra Pezqueda, received $250,000 as part of a settlement for a sexual harassment lawsuit. Pezqueda alleged that she was fired for complaining to management about being sexually harassed by a male supervisor.

"In one occasion, he tried to kiss me at work," Pezqueda said Thursday through an interpreter.

In an email, a Terranea spokesperson told CBS2 Thursday that the settlement involved her direct employer, a cleaning company called Excel Maintenance, which was contracted with Terranea. The spokesperson said that Terranea was "cleared of all ties involving this lawsuit."

Pezqueda alleged the supervisor pursued her for months and cut her hours after she denied his advances. She was ultimately fired.

Pezqueda's story gained national attention and she was featured in Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" issue in 2017 as part of the #MeToo movement.

According to The Guardian, Harrington was in charge of conducting the internal investigation into Pezqueda's claims.

Sanchez and Pezqueda are the only two of the eight women who filed lawsuits. The statute of limitations expired for the other six.

"Terranea takes all staff comments and concerns very seriously, as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure our associates have a workplace in which they feel valued, respected and safe," Terranea said in a statement Thursday. "Terranea vehemently denies the allegations being leveled against it by former employees and one current employee that have recently been reported. Terranea has a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of any kind. We do not comment on pending litigation."

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