A former employee of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region is suing the organization for turning a blind eye to an alleged sexual assault by a higher up.
A year ago, Julie Slivka worked as the director of population wellness for the Colorado Springs-based YMCA association.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this month with the U.S. District Court, Slivka alleges Carlos Lozano, head of the Southeast branch of the organization, sexually assaulted her after the two went out for drinks.
Slivka, who is married, said in the suit that she accepted the invitation with Lozano as a friend, believing he was having a difficult time with his divorce.
According to the lawsuit, Lozano bought her multiple drinks at a restaurant in Fountain. After allegedly making repeated unwanted sexual advances, Lozano followed Slivka out to her car and tried to prevent her from leaving.
“In a panic,” Slivka accidentally ran her car into a median, leading law enforcement to take her to the Fountain Police Department for DUI processing.
Slivka claims Lozano later arrived at the police station and offered to take her home, but instead took her to the Southeast & Armed Services YMCA, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her in his office.
Slivka’s lawyer, Ryan Gilman, said that after Slivka reported the assault to the organization and asked to be kept from working with Lozano, the YMCA did not take the account seriously, and rather told her to "pray on it."
"They did a slipshod investigation and did nothing to protect her, or her wellbeing, from this abuser," Gilman said.
The lawsuit also alleges that the workplace culture at the YMCA created an environment where male supervisors felt safe behaving inappropriately to female colleagues.
The complaint states Slivka filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging sex and disability discrimination and retaliation, and was issued a right to sue letter last year.
The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region has not formally responded to the lawsuit, but in a statement to CPR called the allegations “slanderous.”
“The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region takes all allegations of sexual assault seriously. While there is much we would like to say in response to the suit, this is not the appropriate forum,” the statement said. “However, we can tell you that we deny the allegations and intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit. Furthermore, we are confident that the allegations will be proven false.”
Carlos Lozano no longer works with the organization, but it is not yet clear if that’s related to the alleged sexual assault. CPR was unable to contact Lozano.
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