Lawsuit alleges sexual harassment, racism at ITT Technical Institute

Former recruiting manager Ron Begora focus of suit

SAN DIEGO - Weeks ahead of a civil trial, stunning accusations are emerging of sexual harassment, racism and odd rituals inside of a place of learning in San Diego.

The first in a series of civil trials aimed at ITT Technical Institute will soon get under way.

10News obtained footage of Ron Begora trying his hand at stand-up comedy. In real life, many who worked under Begora say the workplace was no laughing matter.

"To describe it in one word, it would be dreadful," said Aracely Serrano.

Serrano just left her job as an admission counselor at ITT Technical Institute after more than six years.

She says Begora, the recruiting manager and her boss for most of those years, openly vowed to hire women he called "hotties." She says he ogled women, including her.

"He put his eyes in certain body parts that weren't appropriate," said Serrano.

The suit alleges that Begora, on one occasion as he met with a prospective job candidate, dropped his pen and then went under the desk to look up her dress to see if she was wearing panties. Serrano says he bragged about his action to coworkers.

She says Begora also made daily jokes that offended women, gays and just about every race in the office.

"He would treat his secretary like a servant and ring a bell and say, 'Aren't your people familiar with that?'" said Serrano.

She says Begora's most bizarre action was coercing people, including her, to sit on Twinkies at staff meetings.

"We were supposed to sit on the Twinkie and if it exploded with the creme, that means you would have a good week … sometimes he'd open it and eat it and go 'hmmm' ... It was odd,  very odd," said Serrano.

The lawsuit alleges the behavior was permitted by upper-level management.

Serrano says many complained through an ethics hotline, but nothing happened.

Three lawsuits have been settled, but the first of nine others is about to go to trial.

"I've been working in this area for 30 years. This is the worst environment I've seen in my career … Pretty much everyone in this location was offended on a daily basis," said Stephen Morris, Serrano's attorney. 

Morris is also representing most of the other former employees.

"I want women that are going through this to say something ... this should not be happening," said Serrano.

ITT Tech declined to comment.

Serrano's attorney says Begora was fired soon after the lawsuits were filed a year and a half ago.

Begora told 10News the accusations are false and he is looking forward to proving it in court.

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