'It Has to Stop': School Counselor Speaks Out About Sexual Harassment From HR Supervisor - NBC 7 San Diego

'It Has to Stop': School Counselor Speaks Out About Sexual Harassment From HR Supervisor

"This is a supervisor in human resources. This is from someone who actually trains people in sexual harassment," counselor Michelle Beale said.

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    School Counselor Speaks Out in Sexual Harassment Case

    NBC 7's Wendy Fry reports on a school counselor who was threatened with sexual misconduct by a San Diego Unified School District human resources director, and claims she has been retaliated against since reporting it. (Published Monday, Oct. 30, 2017)

    A school counselor who received sexually explicit text messages from the former director of risk management at Sweetwater Union High School District said she feels retaliated against for reporting the harassment.

    When she first received the unwanted texts, counselor Michelle Beale said she felt paralyzed.

    After the shock wore off, Beale decided the next generation of young women must see adults speaking out against this type of behavior. She believes that she is not alone.

    "I know I'm not the only woman whose here," Beale said. "I just know that every woman is afraid of the retaliation that they see me going through." 

    Beale said after she reported the messages, the district is trying to move her work to less favorable positions and locations.

    A spokesman for the Sweetwater Union School District said the district has offered her several different positions in various locations, and Beale has rejected all their offers. Despite that, district officials look forward to her return to work, he said.

    Beale said the district told her she should have reported the text messages to them sooner, rather than allowing the situation to continue and escalate. 

    When Sweetwater's former Director of Risk Management Brian Borg started texting Beale unwanted sexual advancements, she was shocked.

    Attorney Marc Carlos said the messages borderline on sexually violent.

    "He was saying he was going to do things to her, including putting his hand over her mouth and engaging in sexual conduct," Carlos said. "This is a supervisor in human resources. This is from someone who actually trains people in sexual harassment."

    While clutching a copy of Gretchen Carlson's "Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back," Beale said she wants to be a role model for young women and students in her district.

    "If this is the way I'm treated when you report something, and immediately, as the victim, you become blamed, shamed and everything else, imagine students," Beale said. "You see this and this is how you're treated as a professional who really knows her rights. Imagine a poor student who doesn't know what their rights are."

    The Sweetwater Union School District immediately put Borg on leave within hours of learning of the text messages, and he's since been terminated.

    Beal said she's afraid of pushback for refusing to be silent about what happened. But she's been in contact with the book's author Carlson, who is encouraging her to speak up.

    "I'm not some young lady who gets assaulted in the bathroom that you're going to be able to convince an assault didn't happen, so don't report it [to police]," Beale said. "This is wrong and it has to stop, and unfortunately, it's continuing in this district for years but this is the opportunity we have to make a culture change."