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Cox to testify in discrimination suit against nonprofit, Gateway Ice Center

Freshman Rep. TJ Cox (D–Fresno) will be compelled to testify in a Federal discrimination case involving his former nonprofit when it goes to trial in March.

Cox was, until recently, the Chief Financial Officer of the Central Valley Community Sports Foundation.

Last March, two minors – 16-year-old amputee Megan McKeon and 7-year-old Laila Neal, who has cerebral palsy – filed a lawsuit against the Foundation, its executive director, and Gateway Ice Center for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Jesse M. Unruh Civil Rights Act by barring them from using the ice skating facility during different birthday parties in 2016 and 2017.

Both were told they would have to use the facility during specific times when wheelchairs were allowed on the ice.

Ahead of Cox’s Tuesday night town hall meeting in Sanger, a process server served a subpoena on the Congressman, compelling him to testify in the lawsuit.

Trial is scheduled to start March 10 at the Robert E. Coyle Federal Courthouse, one week after California’s March Primary election.

Rachelle Golden, the attorney for Neal and McKeon, said she has already questioned Cox in two separate depositions related to the suit.

Shortly after filing the lawsuit in March, Golden attempted to have Cox personally added as a defendant to the lawsuit, making him personally liable in the event of an award for McKeon and Neal.

She also attempted to add Cox’s primary business, Central Valley New Market Tax Credits LLC, as a party alleging that the business provided federal funds (Treasury-issued New Market Tax Credit proceeds) to a business violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cox left his post as Chief Financial Officer of Central Valley Community Sports Foundation in March.

Cox also divested from Central Valley NMTC and its affiliates. According to filings with California’s Secretary of State, former Fresno City Councilman Oliver Baines assumed management of Central Valley NMTC and its affiliates in July.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.