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|Posted: Thu Apr 25th, 2019 08:00 pm||
|The NBA and the Sacramento Kings will jointly investigate a former sports reporter’s claims that she was sexually assaulted by Kings coach Luke Walton five years ago, the team announced Thursday.
The Kings have hired attorneys from Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux to investigate accusations that Walton attacked her in a hotel room while he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors in 2014. The NBA’s investigatory team will be led by senior vice president and assistant general counsel Elizabeth Maringer.
“The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” the joint statement read.
In a civil lawsuit filed Monday, Kelli Tennant, 31, claimed Walton, 39, held her down and forcibly kissed her.
“Out of nowhere, he got on top of me and pinned me down to the bed and held my arms down with all of his weight while he kissed my neck and my face and my chest,” Tennant told reporters in Los Angeles during a news conference Tuesday.
Tennant said Walton then laughed when she asked him to get up.
“I thought he was going to rape me,” Tennant said of the alleged incident at a hotel in Santa Monica during a Warriors road trip in Los Angeles.
Tennant, a former reporter for Spectrum Sportsnet LA, claims Walton, who is married, sexually assaulted her while she was seeking his help with a book she was writing. She claims in her lawsuit that Walton continued to grope her and rub his erection on her after she managed to initially get away from him. Walton then grabbed her again and pushed his body against hers as she tried to leave his hotel room.
“Good to see you,” Walton then said as she left, according to Tennant’s account.
The development is the latest twist in an increasingly ugly back-and-forth between Tennant and Walton, whose attorney characterized Tennant as an “opportunist” instead of a sexual assault victim.
“We intend to prove this in a courtroom,” attorney Mark Baute told the Sacramento Bee in a statement late Monday.
Baute also vowed not to pay “a dime” to Tennant or her attorneys.
A league source, meanwhile, told the newspaper Tuesday that Kings general manager Vlade Divac was unaware of the allegations against Walton when he was hired by the team on April 15, days after being dismissed as Lakers coach.
It’s too soon to tell whether Walton’s four-year contract could be terminated, according to the unidentified NBA source.