Ex-Lakers coach Walton accused of sexually assaulting sports reporter: lawsuit

Ex-Lakers coach Walton accused of sexually assaulting sports reporter: lawsuit

Sports reporter Kelli Tennant filed a lawsuit Monday that alleged Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton sexually assaulted her, according to NBC News.

In the lawsuit, Tennant, a former host of SportsNet LA, alleged Walton pinned her on the bed in his hotel room in Santa Monica and forcibly kissed her while holding her down. When Tennant told Walton to stop and walked to the door, the lawsuit claims, Walton grabbed her from behind and repeatedly kissed her while holding her arms against her body.

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The complaint does not include an exact date but says the alleged incident occurred when Walton was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, a position he held until April 2016, when he became head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Kings hired Walton as head coach earlier this month.

Tennant claimed sexual assault and battery in the lawsuit, saying she had known Walton for years and considered him a “trusted mentor and colleague.” The lawsuit states that while Tennant told “certain people” about the alleged incident, she did not publicly report it due to her duties covering the Lakers as a sports broadcaster, according to NBC.

"By this lawsuit, Ms. Tennant speaks up and says #timesup to the culture of abuse [of] women in the NBA that is demonstrated,” the lawsuit states.

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

A spokesperson for the Lakers told The Hill that the alleged incident took place before Walton was the team's head coach. 

"At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers," the spokesperson added. "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.”

Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, but said in a statement to NBC that Tennant’s lawsuit was “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.

--Updated at 1:36 p.m.