‘Baseless’ sexual assault claims blasted
An lawyer representing Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton, who is being sued for allegedly sexually assaulting a sports reporter, strongly denied the allegations against his client.
"Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations," Mark Baute told the Sacramento Bee late Monday. "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom."
Walton, 39, is accused of forcing himself on LA-based reporter Kelli Tennant in his Santa Monica hotel after asking her to meet him to discuss a book she was working on, according to the lawsuit obtained by TMZ.
The alleged assault took place before Walton became coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016 and while Tennant worked for Spectrum Sportsnet LA.
She claims the married Walton, who was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors at the time, persuaded her to join him in his room, where he pinned her to the bed with his legs and hips before forcibly kissing her as she screamed at him to stop.
Walton was introduced as the Kings' new coach last week.
"We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time," the team said in a statement.
The Lakers also issued a statement, saying they were previously unaware of the reporter's allegations.
"This alleged incident took place before Luke Walton was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers," the team said in a statement. "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. Since Luke Walton is now under contract to another team, we will have no further comment."
The Warriors also released a statement, saying: "We became aware of the alleged incident and story this evening and are in the process of seeking more information. We'll have no further comment at this time."
Tennant continued to interact with Walton after the alleged incident due to her job, according to TMZ.
She alleged that every time she saw Walton, he forced himself on her with hugs and kisses - once uttering "vulgar, guttural sounds at her," saying, "mmmm … you're killing me in that dress," according to TMZ.
Walton spent two seasons with the Warriors from 2014 to 2016 and was named head coach of the Lakers in April 2016.
He recently parted ways with the Lakers after three seasons with no playoff appearances, and was hired by the Kings a short time later.
This story was originally publish in the New York Post, and has been published with permission