Brand new Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton is being sued by sports reporter Kelli Tennant, who alleges that Walton sexually assaulted her in his hotel room at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. The initial report by TMZ doesn’t say when the alleged assault occurred, but subsequent reporting by The Blast and Los Angeles Times reporter Tania Ganguli say the lawsuit has the alleged assault happening while Walton was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.
According to reports from the Times, TMZ, and the Blast, the lawsuit accuses Walton of inviting Tennant to his hotel room for legitimate business reasons—per Ganguli’s report, to discuss a foreword Walton wrote for a book Tennant published in 2014—and then forcing himself on her once they were alone. Per the TMZ report:
In the suit, Tennant says when she arrived at Walton’s hotel, he convinced her to come up to his room so they could discuss the book. She claims when they got up to his room, Walton suddenly pinned her to the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body.
In the docs, Tennant claims Walton then began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest. She claims she screamed for him to stop and tried to free herself, but he held her down, groped her breasts and groin, and rubbed his erection on her leg.
Tennant was able to get away and leave the hotel room, according to TMZ and the Blast, and her lawsuit claims afterward Walton said, “Good to see you.” But Walton’s behavior continued afterward, per both reports. Here’s how the Blast described that part of the lawsuit:
Tennant claims she did not report the attack, but instead, “suffered silently,” while still working in the Los Angeles sports market. After 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!”
The Kings hired Walton almost immediately after he was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month. The team issued a statement tonight acknowledging the report: