Former UCSD professor Nathan Fletcher files defamation countersuit against accuser in sexual assault case

Former UCSD professor Nathan Fletcher files defamation countersuit against accuser in sexual assault case
Image by Nicholas Regli for The UCSD Guardian

Editor’s Note: This article includes possibly triggering issues such as sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Former UC San Diego professor and San Diego County Board of Supervisors member Nathan Fletcher has filed a defamation countersuit against former San Diego Metropolitan Transit System employee Grecia Figueroa in a sexual assault case.

The civil litigation filed in March of last year details two alleged instances of Fletcher, who has been the board chairman of the company since 2019, sexually assaulting former MTS public relations officer Figueroa. 

Figueroa, then 34, accused Fletcher of groping and kissing her at work, as well as stalking her online. According to the legal complaint, Figueroa claimed to feel “threatened” by Fletcher’s role as her superior, and could only report the assault following her dismissal from MTS, which took place “unannounced” on the same day he announced his state Senate candidacy. Figueroa maintains that none of her interactions with Fletcher were consensual. 

On March 22, Fletcher filed a cross-complaint against Figeroa, alleging that such accusations exposed him “to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, and obloquy,” according to the 20-page countersuit. 

Fletcher has admitted to having physical interactions with Figueroa in the past but denies any claims of assault. According to the lawsuit, “Ms. Figueroa engaged in this malicious conduct to cover Mr. Fletcher into an undeserving multimillion-dollar payment.” The countersuit seeks unspecified monetary compensation, including legal costs.   

A key aspect in the ongoing civil litigation is the access to evidence. Fletcher’s attorney argues that Figueroa had destroyed online evidence that suggested that the former MTS employee was flirting with Fletcher. During the hearing on March 29, the judge placed a temporary restraining order on Figueroa’s electronic devices.

In response, Figueroa claims that these online interactions do not exonerate Fletcher as they are not equivalent to in-person consent. 

The official trial date is slated for February of next year. Following an amicable separation from her second set of lawyers, Figueroa is representing herself in this ongoing litigation in the interim. 

This news is the latest development on the ongoing accusations of inappropriate behavior against Fletcher. 

In April 2023, urban studies lecturer Juli Hinds reported a sexual harassment claim involving Fletcher and one of her students to university administrators. According to the legal claim, Hinds claims that Fletcher and the county abruptly terminated contracts between her consulting firm and the county in the days following her report.  

Fletcher is UCSD’s first professor of practice in political science, dating back to 2013. As a professor of practice, Fletcher, an experienced politician, taught through expertise without a traditional academic background or credentials. According to university records, his most recent class was held in Winter 2023.

The UCSD Guardian will continue to update this story as it progresses.

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About the Contributors
Eru Ishikawa
Eru Ishikawa, Senior Staff Writer
Eru is a third-year Economics student who loves financial markets, Wes Anderson films, and oat-milk cortados.
Nicholas Regli, Artist
Graduating 2024 Cogsci: HCI & Studio Art Double Major
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