Current Sacramento Kings and former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton allegedly sexually assaulted a female reporter while he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, according to a lawsuit first reported by TMZ.
In the lawsuit, Kelli Tennant, who was working as a reporter with Sports Net LA, claims she met Walton at the Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, California, per the Los Angeles Times. The purpose of the meeting was to present him with a copy of her 2014 book, The Transition: Every Athlete’s Guide to Life After Sports, for which Walton penned the foreword (Tennant was a star volleyball player at the University of Southern California before starting a career in sports media).
The lawsuit alleges that Walton suddenly “pinned Ms. Tennant on the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body.” He then “began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest.” The suit said she yelled for him to stop and tried to free herself as Walton groped her breasts and groin area. Eventually, the suit said, Walton relented.
The suit also alleges that in May 2017, sometime after the hotel incident occurred, Walton “forced an aggressive hug” and made a lewd remark about Tennant’s outfit at a charity event the two attended.
In a statement, the Sacramento Kings said: “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.” Similarly, the Warriors said in a statement: “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.” For their part, the Lakers denied having any knowledge of alleged assault:
Lakers have released the following statement on Luke Walton pic.twitter.com/oD7ttqiEO6
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) April 23, 2019
Mark Baute, Walton’s lawyer, said on Monday that Tennant’s claim is “baseless.” “The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom,” Baute said in a statement. We will have to wait and see how things play out in the courtroom.