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Former Sportsnet reporter Kelli Tennant accused Luke Walton of sexually assaulting her in 2014.

By Jenna West
April 23, 2019

Former Spectrum Sportsnet reporter Kelli Tennant held a press conference on Tuesday in Los Angeles to address her accusations against Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton sexually assaulting her in 2014.

Tennant filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Walton of assaulting her in a Santa Monica hotel room during his tenure as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. Walton worked as a Warriors assistant from 2014-16.

Tennant knew Walton from when he covered the Lakers as a Sportsnet analyst. She asked him to write a foreword for a book she authored called The Transition: Every Athlete's Guide to Life After Sports. After the book was published in 2014, Tennant offered to drop off a copy of it to Walton at his hotel when he was in Los Angeles working as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.

She said that she assumed they would stay in the lobby to talk, but Walton told her that Warriors players were in the lobby and he couldn't be around them. According to Tennant, Walton suggested they should go up to his room. Tennant claimed Walton pinned her on the bed in his hotel room and started groping her and forcibly kissing her. She said that Walton did not stop when she begged him to. 

When asked why she did not report the alleged assault to police or her employer, Tennant said she was afraid to come forward.

"I was scared," she said. "I felt coming forward would jeopardize every aspect of my life."

Before Tuesday's press conference, Tennant's attorney, Garo Mardirossian, released a statement on the lawsuit, per Southern California News Group's Kyle Goon.

"As alleged in the lawsuit, women connected to the National Basketball Association (NBA) have long had to suffer in silence through the indignities of gender abuse and sexual exploitation at the hands of famous, wealthy and powerful men. Aided by their fame, money and power, and motivated by a culture that tolerates gender-bias, too many men in professional basketball inappropriately abuse women. As alleged in the lawsuit, Defendant Luke Walton—a former professional basketball player and the former Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers—is one of these men.

"As alleged in the lawsuit, Kelli Tennant—a former collegiate athlete and star sports broadcaster, is a woman who has had to tolerate and suffer in silence from the abuse she suffered at the hands of Luke Walton. By way of this lawsuit, Ms. Tennant is speaking out and saying #timesup to the culture of abusing women in the NBA."

The Kings hired Walton as their new head coach on April 13 after the Lakers fired him. Sacramento released a statement on Monday in response to Tennant's allegations against Walton.

"We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information," the Kings said. "We have no further comment at this time."

Walton's attorney, Mark Baute, also released a statement addressing the lawsuit.

"Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations," Baute said, per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom."

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