The NBA and the Sacramento Kings announced a joint investigation on Thursday, looking into allegations of sexual assault after former sports reporter Kelli Tennant accused Kings coach Luke Walton of forcing himself on her at a hotel in 2014.
Tennant, who used to work as a reporter for Spectrum SportsNet LA, filed a lawsuit Monday alleging the coach and former player sexually assaulted her after inviting her into his hotel room in Santa Monica, California, in 2014. At the time, Walton was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors.
“The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” the Sacramento team said in a news release.
The Kings hired an independent investigator, Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and the NBA’s investigatory team will be led by their assistant general counsel Elizabeth Maringer.
Tennant, who was a volleyball player and coach before working in sports broadcasting, described the alleged assault in a news conference Tuesday, saying: “I’m no longer comfortable staying silent.”
“Out of nowhere, he got on top of me,” she said, describing the alleged assault in the hotel room. She said Walton pinned her down. “When I asked him to please stop and get off, he laughed at me.” She said he “rubbed his erection” on her as he held her arms down, laughing at her pleas for him to stop and get off. “I thought he was going to rape me,” she said.
Over the following years, Tennant repeatedly had to interact with Walton as part of her job as a journalist covering the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Walton was head coach for from 2016 until earlier this year.
When asked why it took her until now to come forward, Tennant said: “I was scared. When someone assaults you and you think you’re going to be raped, coming forward is a scary thing.”
Earlier this week, Walton’s attorney Mark Baute told CNN Sports that the allegations were “baseless” and that “we intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
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