Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton has been accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by Kelli Tennant, a former host on the Los Angeles Lakers regional sports network, Spectrum SportsNet LA, ESPN reported.
Tennant claims Walton assaulted her in a Santa Monica, California, hotel room in April 2016, just before he was hired as the Lakers coach.
At the time, Walton was still an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.
The alleged incident stemmed from a meeting between the two at the Casa Del Mar Hotel where Tennant met Walton to drop off a copy of her book, for which Walton wrote the forward, ESPN reported. The two had worked together at Spectrum, where Walton had been a guest analyst. Walton was in town with the Warriors at the time, playing against the Lakers.
“Walton allegedly invited Tennant to his room so they wouldn’t be seen together by any Warriors players,” the ESPN report said. “He then allegedly pinned Tennant to the hotel bed and forcibly kissed and groped her.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Walton “forced an aggressive hug” and made a lewd remark about Tennant’s outfit at an event in May 2017.
Luke Walton Sued For Sexual Assault https://t.co/CDbctJazBk
— TMZ (@TMZ) April 23, 2019
Walton resigned as coach of the Lakers on April 12, three days after Magic Johnson resigned as president of basketball operations. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said the departure of Walton was a mutual decision.
On April 15, the Kings hired Walton as their head coach.
The Lakers said they were never made aware of the allegations while Walton was their coach, according to ESPN.
“At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers,” the team said in a statement. “If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA. Since Luke Walton is now under contract to another team, we will have no further comment.”
Lakers have released the following statement on Luke Walton pic.twitter.com/oD7ttqiEO6
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) April 23, 2019
“No one ever reported it to the team,” a source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “And that is not why the team parted ways with him.”
The Kings also released a statement on the matter.
“We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information,” Sacramento officials said. “We have no further comment at this time.”
According to NBA writer Sam Amick, Walton’s attorney said Tennant “is an opportunist, not a victim,” and “her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
A statement from Luke Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, regarding sexual assault allegations: “Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations. The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, & her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 23, 2019
The Warriors also said they are “aware of the alleged incident” and are gathering additional information, ESPN reported.
Sources told ESPN that the NBA has opened its own an investigation on the alleged incident.
Tennant’s lawyer did not say if she reported the alleged assault to police, ESPN reported.
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