PELLA — The cascade of sexual harassment complaints ensnaring Hollywood now includes a lawsuit filed Monday by Pella native Becky Steenhoek, a former assistant TV producer, against Warner Bros., producers of “The Bachelor” and five co-workers on the reality show.
Steenhoek’s harassment and wrongful termination suit claims she was subjected to “persistent sexual inquiries and language” about her private life, that the conversation made her uncomfortable, and when she complained to a supervisor, she was fired.
She had been employed as a segment producer for Warner Bros. and NZK Productions, Inc., between 2014 and 2016, according to the suit. She worked for “The Bachelor” show as well as its spinoffs: “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and “Jade and Tanner’s Wedding.”
Steenhoek grew up in Pella. where her parents still live. She was described by school officials as a good student with a lot of potential. She was involved in school activities, graduating from Pella Community High School in 2004.
“She was one of the kindest people I have ever met,” said Bob Fessler, her freshman volleyball coach who still teaches at the school. “She was incredibly helpful and very much a leader. When I first came here she was on my first volleyball team that I coached. She was one of the players that I could rely on getting here on my first days, weeks and even months into a season of showing me the ropes and what was here.”
Steenhoek also participated in music programs, color guard, tennis and the Carnaby Club. She also competed for a spot on the Tulip Court.
Eric Nelson, currently Pella Community High School’s principal, was the vice principal then. He said Steenhoek was “an outstanding lady with a lot of potential. She led by example and had great character and integrity. She was an all-around great kid.”
Steenhoek’s lawsuit names co-workers Elan Gale, Peter Scalettar, Bennett Graebner, Jacqueline Naz Perez and Caitlin Stapleton as using sexually-charged language and asking sexual questions even though she “was not interested in discussing her sexual life with her supervisors and co-workers.”
The suit said the questions were directed toward Steenhoek to embarrass her, and were not a part of the “creative process” of the show.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, which first broke the story, Warner Bros. said it takes allegations of workplace harassment seriously and stated it had investigated Steenhoek’s claims earlier this year but did not find evidence to support them.