Kings, NBA begin sex-assault inquiry into coach Walton
From NBA media reports
The Sacramento Kings and the NBA have begun a joint investigation into allegations that coach Luke Walton sexually assaulted a woman.
The Kings and the league said Thursday they will be looking into the accusations contained in a lawsuit filed earlier in this week in Los Angeles by former sportscaster Kelli Tennant.
The Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association announced today that they have commenced a joint investigation into the allegations contained in a civil lawsuit filed Monday against Kings Head Coach Luke Walton.
The Kings have hired Sue Ann Van Dermyden, founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, who is an expert on employment law with decades of experience in conducting investigations, and Jennifer Doughty, a veteran investigator and senior associate attorney at Van Dermyden Maddux. They will lead the Kings investigatory team.
The NBA’s investigatory team will be led by Elizabeth Maringer, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Integrity and Investigations. Prior to joining the NBA, Ms. Maringer served 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including three as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.
Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, has called the allegations “baseless” and says the coach will prove that in court.
Tennant contends Walton attacked her when he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, which was from 2014 to 2016.
Tennant said she confided in people at the time but never filed charges because she was scared. Her lawyer, Garo Mardirossian, said because years had passed, he believed it would be difficult now to file a police report and put together a criminal case.
Tennant said Walton continued to harass her after he became coach of the Lakers and she was working as a broadcaster in Los Angeles for Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA. She now does a wellness podcast.
Tennant said she considered the 39-year-old Walton, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton, to be a longtime friend and mentor. The coach had written the foreword to a 2014 book she had written and she went to give him a copy while he was at a Santa Monica hotel during a Warriors road trip to Los Angeles.
Tennant said Walton met her in the lobby and invited her to his room. After discussing the book, Tennant said Walton suddenly grabbed her, pinned her to the bed and forcibly kissed her. Tennant said that when she asked him to get off “he laughed at me.”
Tennant said Walton relented and she started to leave the room when he grabbed her again and kissed her ears and neck. She said he finally stopped, laughed and said “good to see you” before she left.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.