NBA: Walton's lawyer rips accuser's press conference

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 25 2019 09:34 AM

The attorney for Luke Walton fired back at former sports reporter Kelli Tennant on Wednesday, one day after she held a press conference to publicly discuss her sexual assault allegations against the new Sacramento Kings coach.

Tennant filed a lawsuit against Walton on Monday, claiming she was assaulted by Walton at a Santa Monica hotel. Her attorney said the assault occurred in 2014.

Walton's attorney, Mark Baute, disputed what Tennant had to say during her press conference in Los Angeles.

"These claims are false and Luke's innocence will be proven in court. Yesterday's press conference was a poorly staged attempt to portray the accuser as a viable spokesperson for an important movement," Baute said in a statement. 

"Her lawyers want to create a public circus to distract from their complete lack of evidence to support their outrageous claims. We will not try this case in the media or pay them a dime."

On Tuesday, prior to Tennant's press conference, Baute called the allegations "baseless" and referred to Tennant as "an opportunist, not a victim."

The incident allegedly occurred after Walton wrote the foreward for Tennant's book. He was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors at the time and Tennant stopped by the hotel to drop off a copy of the book and Walton wanted to have the conversation in his hotel room.

According to Tennant, things got out of hand quickly after she entered the hotel room.

"Out of nowhere, he got on top of me and pinned me down to the bed and held my arms down with all of his weight while he kissed my neck and my face and my chest," Tennant said during a news conference.

According to Tennant, she asked Walton to stop and he laughed at her. Tennant said she thought she was about to get raped but eventually broke free and left the room.

Tennant, 31, said she was afraid to come forward earlier, partly because of Walton's status as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. She said a large part of her motivation for going public now is her own well-being.

"I am no longer comfortable staying silent about the things that have happened to me," Tennant said. "Although this may came as a shock to many of you in this community, this is a reality that I have been living in for years."

"I can no longer stand to not tell the story of what has profoundly affected my life in all of the events that we have alleged in our complaint."

The Santa Monica Police Department told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that the 39-year-old Walton is not under investigation.

Walton's new employers -- the Kings -- are monitoring the situation. The Lakers, who dismissed Walton earlier this month, said the team had no knowledge of the allegation prior to Monday.

Tennant is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

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