Facing a lawsuit which alleges that he sexual assaulted former Spectrum SportsNet reporter Kelli Tennant, Kings head coach Luke Walton has retained the services of attorney Mark Baute, who issued a statement on Monday night in strong support of his client.
“Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations,” Baute said, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. “The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
A source tells Amick that Kings general manager Vlade Divac had no previous knowledge of the accusations against Walton until Monday’s report surfaced. The Kings appear to be just as stunned by the news as everyone else, according to Amick, who adds that it’s too early in the fact-finding process to determine whether the team might explore the possibility of terminating Walton’s new four-year contract.
Here are a few more notes on the Walton situation:
- Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times passes along several details of the lawsuit, which alleges that Tennant “was afraid she was about to be raped” during the alleged incident at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. While Tennant didn’t make the allegations public until now, she had previously told others about the alleged assault, according to the suit.
- As Ganguli relays, the lawsuit also discusses a second incident which took place on May 24, 2017, when Tennant spoke at a charity event honoring Walton and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. Tennant alleges that Walton “made lewd noises and looked at her suggestively before hugging her in an unwanted way,” Ganguli writes. The alleged incident was mentioned in the lawsuit to establish a “pattern of mistreatment.”
- It’s crucial that the Kings are fair and transparent as they investigate the allegations against Walton, writes Marcus Breton of The Sacramento Bee. While it’s an uncomfortable situation for Sacramento, the team would only make things worse by going on the defensive or focusing on protecting its investment in Walton, Breton contends.