EX-LAK­ERS, CUR­RENT KINGS COACH LUKE WAL­TON AC­CUSED OF SEX­UAL AS­SAULT

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY TANIA GAN­GULI

LOS AN­GE­LES

For­mer Lak­ers coach Luke Wal­ton has been ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault by for­mer Spec­trum Sport­sNet host Kelli Ten­nant.

In a law­suit filed Mon­day in Los An­ge­les County Su­pe­rior Court, Ten­nant, a for­mer USC vol­ley­ball player, alleges that Wal­ton as­saulted her at the Casa del Mar Ho­tel in Santa Monica while he was an as­sis­tant coach with the Golden State War­riors.

No date was given for the al­leged as­sault, but the suit says it hap­pened af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of a book writ­ten by Ten­nant, for which Wal­ton wrote a fore­word. The book was pub­lished in 2014.

Wal­ton was a men­tor to Ten­nant, the law­suit says, and she had known his wife for years be­cause both were com­pet­i­tive vol­ley­ball play­ers in col­lege. She drove to the ho­tel to give him a copy of the book. He in­vited her to his room so as not to be in the pub­lic eye, ac­cord­ing to the suit.

The law­suit, which was ex­am­ined by the Los An­ge­les Times, 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.

“She was afraid she was about to be raped,” the suit stated.

Wal­ton played for the Lak­ers from 2003 to 2012. Af­ter re­tir­ing as a player, Wal­ton dab­bled in broad­cast­ing, and ap­peared on Spec­trum Sport­sNet. He and Ten­nant ap­peared together on the net­work.

He then went into coach­ing and was on the War­riors’ staff from 2014 to 2016, when the Lak­ers hired him to be their head coach. Wal­ton guided the Lak­ers for three sea­sons be­fore he and the team mu­tu­ally parted ways on April 12. He be­came the head coach of the Sacra­mento Kings days later.

Nei­ther Wal­ton nor Spec­trum Sport­sNet re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment.

“Luke Wal­ton re­tained me to de­fend him against these base­less al­le­ga­tions,” said Mark Baute, Wal­ton’s at­tor­ney, in a state­ment to sev­eral media out­lets. “The ac­cuser is an op­por­tunist, not a vic­tim, and her claim is not cred­i­ble. We in­tend to prove this in a court­room.”

“We are aware of the re­port and are gath­er­ing ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion,” the Kings said in a state­ment. “We have no fur­ther com­ment at this time.”

The Lak­ers re­leased a state­ment on Mon­day evening not­ing that the al­leged in­ci­dent oc­curred be­fore they hired him.

“At no time be­fore or dur­ing his em­ploy­ment here was this al­le­ga­tion re­ported to the Lak­ers,” the team’s state­ment read. “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 were also caught off guard, they said.

“We be­came aware of the al­leged in­ci­dent and story this evening and are in the process of seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion,” a state­ment from the War­riors read. “We’ll have no fur­ther com­ment at this time.”

Times staff writer Richard Win­ton con­trib­uted to this re­port.

GARY CORO­N­ADO TNS

Sacra­mento Kings, and for­mer Los An­ge­les Lak­ers, coach Luke Wal­ton was ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault by for­mer Spec­trum Sport­sNet host Kelli Ten­nant.

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