SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A San Diego woman says a former teacher, who continues to work as a pastor, repeatedly sexually harassed her. She claims the organization that employed him as a teacher did not do enough to help her.
Angelique Williams tells 10News that she spent months holding in a debilitating secret and it wasn’t under the recent #MeToo social media movement that she decided to contact 10News.
“I thought I was powerful but when I stood behind the desk and he rubbed my legs up and down when I had a skirt on, I couldn't do anything. I stood there, powerless,” she tells us of her former instructor at Second Chance.
The San Diego nonprofit helps give at-risk men and women the skills they need to enter the workforce. Second Chance confirms that Gregory Hamilton had been employed there as a job readiness training instructor.
Williams, a 48-year-old single mother, says she entered the Second Chance program in early June.
“I wanted to be self-sufficient and independent again,” she tells us.
Williams says Hamilton started making advances on her in the days after she started her classes. She adds, “He immediately tried to enter into a relationship with me."
She showed us what she says is a selfie of him that he texted to her, accompanied with an inappropriate message. She also showed us what she says is a text from him with a picture of a dress and a message about wanting her to have it and that it was expensive. Williams tells us he repeatedly called her. She showed us photos on her cell phone of a hotel room, which she says he sent to her in a suggestive manner.
“It escalated to beyond uncomfortable. He was grabby,” she said with tears in her eyes, explaining that she felt particularly vulnerable. “He's absolutely huge. He's a man who was in that [powerful] position. He's humongous. He's over 6 feet tall [and] 300 pounds. I was absolutely fearful. What was I supposed to do?”
On June 15, 10 days after she says the inappropriate exchanges began, she says she reported him to a supervisor at Second Chance. The organization sent us a statement on October 23:
“We take matters like this very seriously. As soon as we learned about the situation, we opened an investigation. Mr. Hamilton was immediately removed from the classroom and put on administrative leave (fair and normal practice for any accusation).
He was later terminated. We provided resources – both counseling and legal resources – and let Ms. Williams know what the next steps should be (as she needed to make the claim directly and more formally).
As an organization, we followed through and dismissed him as quickly as possible. We ran all of the proper background checks. Mr. Hamilton was fingerprinted; we also conducted background and reference checks. We agree that what happened to Ms. Williams should not happen to anyone.”
The organization writes that termination date was June 21.
10News contacted Hamilton, who sent us a copy of a confidential separation agreement letter that he says he signed with Second Chance. It reads that the agreement was made on July 10, almost three weeks after he was terminated. The agreement letter includes information that he received a severance payment of $2,760.
She questions, "They gave him a confidential settlement agreement? They gave this deviant, who sexually touched me, money? Talk about a scumbag helping a scumbag. Second Chance is just as scummy as he is."
10News asked Second Chance about the nature of the agreement, but the organization declined to comment, citing privacy issues.
Second Chance issued an additional statement:
"Second Chance strives to ensure all members of our community have the means to achieve self-sufficiency, regardless of gender, age, race, or criminal history. Our organization maintains and adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and takes appropriate measures, including maintaining written policies, providing training, and promptly addressing any allegations made to the organization to ensure all individuals are provided an environment that is professional and free from harassment.
Additionally, all potential employees undergo multiple pre-employment screenings, and state and federal background checks must be satisfactorily completed before an individual begins working for our organization.
The situation in question was promptly addressed by the organization in full accordance with our policies. Out of consideration for the privacy interests of those involved and our legal obligations, we cannot further comment on the specifics of this situation."
Hamilton agreed to an interview with 10News, but then canceled twice. He claims he left the nonprofit for other reasons. He denies the allegations of sexual harassment. He says it was Williams who made suggestive advances on him, not the other way around.
Williams says she admits that she agreed to let him give her a few rides to and from class, and they did go to lunch.
She tells us, however, "I made it clear to him I wanted to be professional, only, but he would not accept that."
Second Chance's first statement to 10News read that it provided counseling and legal resources to Ms. Williams that would let her know what the next steps should be. Williams says that's untrue.
"There's no recourse unless I have money and unless I have a lawyer to fight. I'm just stuck doing nothing and that's what so many women are stuck with. Nothing. We're stuck with crying every night and trying to figure out what we did wrong, when we did nothing wrong," she explains.
Williams tells 10News she quit the program soon after Hamilton was terminated because she still didn't feel safe.
Hamilton tells us he's a pastor for San Diego's Uptown Church of Christ. It rents out space from a church in the Normal Heights community. Uptown Church of Christ's website reads that the church first congregated under his leadership in 2009. He appears in photos and videos on the Facebook page for Uptown Church of Christ.