Police in Santa Monica, Calif., said a local sports reporter never filed a report accusing Luke Walton of sexual assault, and the Sacramento Kings reportedly weren’t aware of the allegations when they hired him as their head coach last week.
FILE PHOTO: Mar 27, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton watches the action against the Utah Jazz in the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
Santa Monica police told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Walton, 39, is not under investigation.
“There has been no report made to the Santa Monica Police Department,” Lt. Candice Cobarrubias said in a statement. “No investigation is ongoing.”
TMZ reported, and the Times confirmed, that sports reporter Kelli Tennant filed a lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming Walton assaulted her at the Casa del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica while he was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. The date of the alleged attack is unknown, but it is believed to be before he became coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that Kings general manager Vlade Divac said he had “no previous knowledge of the accusations until the report surfaced, and that it was too early in this fact-finding process to explore the possibility of terminating Walton’s contract.”
Walton’s lawyer, Mark Baute, issued a statement Tuesday calling the allegations “baseless.”
“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom,” he said.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass issued a statement Tuesday reading, “We are coordinating with the Kings organization and are in the process of gathering more information.”
The Kings issued a statement Monday night that read, “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”
The Lakers also issued a statement that read, “This alleged incident took place before Luke Walton was the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers. If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA. Since Luke Walton is now under contract to another team, we will have no further comment.”
Tennant alleges in her lawsuit that, while visiting Walton at the hotel to discuss a book project, he convinced her to go up to his hotel room, where he groped her and forced himself on her before eventually relenting.
Following the hotel-room incident, Tennant claims that Walton continued to verbally and physically harass her. She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Walton parted ways with the Lakers on April 12 after a 37-45 season. He compiled a 98-148 record over three seasons, with no playoff appearances. He was quickly hired by the Kings.
—Field Level Media