Luke Walton is being sued for allegedly taking advantage of a friendly relationship and forcing himself on a female sports reporter while the two were having a private meeting in a hotel room.
The lawsuit, obtained by The Blast, was filed by Kelli Tennant against the former Los Angeles Lakers coach Monday in Los Angeles.
Tennant claims she knew Walton in the basketball world and considered him a “trusted mentor and colleague.” She claims she was working on a book about athletes transitioning into the real world after their careers ended, and Walton invited her to his hotel room to discuss a forward he had agreed to write for the book.
She claims Walton, who was coaching for the Golden State Warriors at the time and in town to play the Lakers, invited her up to the hotel room to “catch up.”
Tennant claims that once inside the hotel room, Walton allegedly “pinned Ms. Tennant on the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body. Defendant Walton then began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest.”
She claims to have yelled “Stop it,” but says, “Walton did not stop. instead, the crushing weight of his six-foot eight-inch, two hundred and thirty-five pound body pinned Ms. Tennant to the bed and she unable to escape. Defendant Walton groped Ms. Tennant’s breasts and groin area, continued to forcibly kiss her face, necks, breasts, etc., and rubbed his erection on her leg.”
Tennant says she feared she would be “raped,” and “yelled and pled” with Walton to stop. She says, “Walton did not stop. Instead, he only continued to sexually assault her but laughed at her pleas to stop.”
She was apparently able to get away and claims Walton said, “Good to see you” after the incident.
After the hotel room incident, Tennant says Walton continued to verbally and physically harass her, “causing more damage and re-igniting the painful wounds of his sexual assault of her.”
Tennant claims she did not report the attack, but instead, “suffered silently,” while still working in the Los Angeles sports market. After Luke Walton became coach of the Lakers, Tennant says she was in frequent contact with Walton, and he “made implied threats of additional physical assaults,” and would allegedly hug and kiss her.
To make matters worse, Tennant says she later was involved with a charitable organization that put on an event in which Walton was one of the guests of honor. She claims when he saw her the night of the event he, “uttered vulgar, guttural sounds at her in a lewd manner and remarked, “Mmmm … you’re killing me in that dress!”
Tennant says she felt like a “piece of meat,” and claimed Walton, who was just announced as the head coach for the Sacramento Kings, would continually harass her, despite a “clear lack of consent or interest.”
She claims to have suffered injuries to her “mind and body,” including “shock and injury” to her nervous system and person. She’s looking for an unspecified amount of damages from Luke Walton.
The Sacramento Kings, who just hired Walton to be their head coach, released a statement saying, “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”
Mark Baute, a lawyer for Walton, said of the lawsuit, “Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations. The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”