Kelli Tennant Accuses NBA Coach Luke Walton Of Sexual Assault
Posted On April 16, 2020
LOS ANGELES, CA — Former Lakers Coach Luke Walton, the newly hired Sacramento Kings coach, is being sued by SportsNet reporter Kelli Tennant, who has accused him of sexually assaulting and harassing her.
Walton was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors when he invited her to his Santa Monica hotel room to catch up after writing the foreword for her book.,Tennant claims.
“As she had known defendant Walton for years, trusted him as a mentor and knew him to be a married man with children whose wife she was acquainted with, Ms. Tennant agreed,” according to the court papers.
But once in his hotel room, he became aggressive, the suit states.
“… Suddenly and out of nowhere, defendant Walton pinned Ms. Tennant on the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body. Defendant Walton then began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest. Terrified, Ms. Tennant immediately yelled `Stop it,’ and tried to free herself. Defendant Walton did not stop.”
Tennant claims in the court papers that Walton groped her breasts and groin area, and that he “laughed at her pleas to stop.”
“She was afraid she was about to be raped,” the suit stated.
The suit claims he let her up but grabbed her again as she walked toward the door and said, “Good to see you,” as she left the hotel room.
Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, issued a statement denying the allegations.
“Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations,” the statement said. “The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
In the suit, Tennant claims she didn’t immediately report Walton but continued to interact with him because of her job as a reporter, and he continued to sexually harass her as the head coach of the Lakers. He allegedly forced hugs or kisses on her and made crude comments, one time uttering, “vulgar, guttural sounds at her” and said, “mmmm … you’re killing me in that dress.”
The court papers allege sexual battery, sexual assault, gender violence, and assault and battery. The document seeks unspecified damages.
“Plaintiff Kelli Tennant — a former rising star sports broadcaster — is a woman who has had to tolerate, endure and suffer in silence from the abuse she suffered at the hands of Defendant Walton. But no longer,” the court papers state.
“By this lawsuit, Ms. Tennant speaks up and says #timesup to the culture of abuse of women in the NBA that is demonstrated by the conduct of Defendant Luke Walton…”
After the Lakers’ season ended this year, Walton parted ways with the club, accepting the job of head coach for the Sacramento Kings.
Neither Walton nor Spectrum SportsNet has issued a public response to the lawsuit. The Lakers released a statement saying the club was unaware of any misconduct allegations while Walton was the team’s coach.
“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 Sacramento Kings issued the following statement: “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”
The 6-foot, 8-inch Walton played for the Lakers from 2003 through 2012 and was a member of the club’s 2009 and 2010 championship teams. He is a son of Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Walton.
Tennant worked for the Spectrum SportsNet networks, working on baseball, basketball and soccer telecasts and studio shows for five years through 2017. She was a broadcaster on Amazon Prime’s coverage of the Association of Volleyball Professionals beach volleyball tour in 2018.
Tennant now hosts a podcast she describes as “advocating for women to help them heal, grow and elevate their lives.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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