Hockey Mom Says Rink Froze Her Out
CAMERON PARK, Calif. (CN) - A hockey mom claims in court that her sons' skating rink banned her because she reported a sex offender in the arena to the police.
Leigh-Ellen Yarbrough says she was already on thin ice with Tahoe Sports & Entertainment when she reported the sex offender and found herself banned.
The trouble started in December 2010, when she worked for the South Lake Tahoe rink as a part-time coach and recreation coordinator, according to the complaint in Eldorado County Superior Court.
After a teenage patron of the rink "intentionally 'rammed' into her chest twice hard enough to send her stumbling backwards off balance," Yarbrough alleged reported the conduct to no avail.
She says she got restraining orders for herself and her children, but the arena was hostile toward her and fired her in March 2011.
The complaint also says Stan Sherer, a city employee, slandered Yarbrough by making comments, such as, "she is not a team player."
Claiming that the city did not give her 30 days' notice, Yarbrough says she received permission to teach more lessons until May 9.
"On approximately April 20, 2011, in response to requests that Ms. Yarbrough be allowed to schedule classes ..., Mr. Sherer replied that if she 'behaves herself, then she can stay,'" according to the complaint.
But Yarbrough says the city refused to put her on the schedule.
On May 16, Yarbrough says she obtained permission to coach a lesson she had scheduled for free because "she didn't want to upset the skaters."
"While at the ice arena, Ms. Yarbrough spotted a person convicted of child sex related offenses whom she understood was not to be present at the Ice Arena," the complaint states. "She called 911."
"The wife of the sex offender informed the responding officers that it was 'ok' for the sex offender to be present at the Ice Arena because he was with her and she was a City Official - she was/is a Parks & Recreation commissioner," Yarbrough added.
As the officer investigated, Yarbrough allegedly received a call from a representative for the city of South Tahoe, telling her "that the city had banned her from the ice arena and she was not to return, apparently forever."
Meanwhile, officers arrested the man she had reported, and the sex offender pleaded no-contest to subsequent charges.
"In December of 2011, a federal judge sentenced [the man] to 6 months in jail for eight probation violations related to his arrest at the ice arena," the complaint states.
Yarbrough says her children are still allowed to use the arena, but she cannot watch them play because of the ban.
"Friends were forced to take the Yarbrough children, plaintiffs herein, to their year-end hockey tournament and Ms. Yarbrough's skaters were forced to take lessons from other coaches at the last minute for an upcoming competition," according to the complaint.
"Sorrowfully, Ms. Yarbrough missed these important year-end events causing bother her and her children extreme emotional distress.
"Ms. Yarbrough and her children have been forced to relocate so that her children may continue in their ice-skating and hockey endeavors, and so she may be able to continue with gainful employment as a coach."
She and her three minor sons sued the city, the arena, Sherer and two other individuals for breach of contract, wrongful termination, slander and other charges.
Yarbrough seeks reinstatement and punitive damages. They are represented by Jacqueline Mittelstadt of South Lake Tahoe.