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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 11 August, 2020

NBA head coach accused of sexual assault

Kelli Tennant claims the alleged incident involving Luke Walton took place back in 2016, when she was working as a sports reporter.

Sacramento Kings head coach, Luke Walton.
Sacramento Kings head coach, Luke Walton.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

LUKE WALTON, HEAD coach of the Sacramento Kings, is being sued by a woman who alleges he forced himself on her at a Santa Monica, California hotel, according to US media reports.

Celebrity news outlet TMZ first reported Walton had invited Kelli Tennant, a sports reporter, to meet him at his hotel to discuss a book she was writing.

Citing court documents, it said the woman alleged Walton, with whom she had a previous business relationship, convinced her to go to his room and forced himself on her.

There, according to the lawsuit, he allegedly pinned her to the bed, kissed and groped her while she resisted, TMZ said.

It added the lawsuit says he eventually stopped and let her go but, as she walked away, grabbed her from behind and pulled her close — before eventually allowing her to leave.

Tennant conducted a news conference on Tuesday, appearing in front of cameras in the US to give her statement regarding the accusations.

Source: KCRA News/YouTube

She said the incident took place before Walton was the LA Lakers’ coach, back in 2016 when he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors. 

“I was 25 when this first happened,” she said in quotes reported by NBC.

As a young woman who had only been in this job for less than a year, who was incredibly grateful for where I was and had worked incredibly hard to get to that position, I was scared and I felt coming forward would jeopardise every aspect of my life.

“I am no longer comfortable staying silent. No woman should ever be made to feel like a victim.”

Kings Walton Sued Basketball Former sports reporter Kelli Tennant pauses for a moment while speaking at a news conference on Tuesday. Source: Jae C. Hong

Now coach of the Kings, Walton was let go as Lakers coach for reasons unrelated to the accusations.

The Lakers issued a statement on Monday night saying they had no previous knowledge of the allegations.

“This alleged incident took place before Luke Walton was the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers,” a team spokesman said.

At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers. If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA.”

Walton has denied the allegations. Lawyers representing the 39-year-old have described the allegations as “baseless”.

“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom,” Walton said through his attorney, Mark Baute.

- With additional reporting from Cian Roche

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