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Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton is being sued by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her, according to court documents cited by multiple outlets.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, Kelli Tennant - who previously worked as a Los Angeles Dodgers reporter for Spectrum SportsNet - alleges Walton forced himself on her in a hotel room in Santa Monica, Calif., while he was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.
Walton responded to the lawsuit with a statement from his attorney Mark Baute on Monday night.
"Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations," Baute said, according to 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."
No date was given, according to the Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli, but Walton was with the Warriors from 2014-16. He co-published a book with Tennant titled "The Transition: Every Athlete’s Guide to Life After Sports" in 2014.
The suit alleges that Walton "pinned Ms. Tennant on the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body" and forced "kisses on her neck, face, and chest." Tennant's lawyer Garo Mardirossian declined to disclose whether she reported the assault to police, reports Ganguli.
"We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information," the Kings said in a statement Monday night, according to Amick. "We have no further comment at this time."
A source told Amick that Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac had no previous knowledge of the accusations before the news broke Monday and that it was too early in the fact-finding process to explore the possibility of firing Walton.
"We are coordinating with the Kings organization and are in the process of gathering more information," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement to The Athletic's Bill Oram.
"This alleged incident took place before Luke Walton was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers," it said. "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."
The Warriors released a similar statement, according to The New York Times' Marc Stein.
Sacramento officially introduced the 39-year-old Walton as its head coach on April 15, three days after he parted ways with the Lakers.