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NBA: Insufficient evidence to support Luke Walton sexual assault allegations

Luke Walton
Luke Walton coaches the Lakers against the Pelicans on March 31 in New Orleans.
(Tyler Kaufman / Associated Press)

The Sacramento Kings and NBA announced that they did not find sufficient evidence to support sexual assault accusations against former Lakers coach Luke Walton made by former Spectrum SportsNet host Kelli Tennant in a lawsuit filed April 22.

Walton is now the Kings’ head coach.

The league and team launched an independent investigation led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, from the Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Elizabeth Maringer, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of the NBA.

“During the investigation, more than twenty individuals were interviewed, including Coach Walton, and numerous documents and other relevant materials were reviewed,” read part of the statement. “The investigators made repeated attempts to interview Ms. Tennant, but, through her counsel, she declined the opportunity to participate.”

A former Spectrum SportsNet reporter suing Luke Walton, with whom she worked at the network before he became an NBA coach, said she no longer can remain silent about her sexual assault claim after struggling for years to cope with the alleged incident.
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Walton released a statement following the announcement. “I am 100% focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings, and energized to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start the preseason,” he said. “I will have no further comment.”

The Kings said in a statement: “Luke Walton is our head coach and we support him and his team as they continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Tennant’s lawsuit is still pending.

In it, she alleged that Walton assaulted her at the Casa Del Mar hotel in Santa Monica while he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. She said she visited Walton at the team hotel to provide him a copy of her book for which she said he had written a foreword. She also said Walton continued making unwanted advances and contact when he became the Lakers’ head coach in 2016.

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers
Luke Walton watches the Lakers play the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game in November.
(Getty Images)

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Walton’s attorney Mark Baute, who also represented Derrick Rose in a sexual assault case, responded with a statement denying Tennant’s claims and accusing her of opportunism.

In July, Walton’s attorneys filed an answer to Tennant’s lawsuit, saying the interaction between Walton and Tennant at the hotel was purely platonic. The answer also denied Tennant’s assertion of when the incident occurred and denied that Walton had written a foreword for Tennant’s book.


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