Reports: Female reporter sues Luke Walton for sexual assault

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
Luke Walton has been accused of sexually assaulting a reporter during his time with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

New Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton is being sued by a female reporter who is claiming he forced himself on her in a hotel room before he was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers in April 2016, TMZ reports.

News of the lawsuit was confirmed by the Los Angeles Times’ Tania Ganguli, who said the alleged incident occurred while Walton was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

"We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time," the Kings said in a statement released to Yahoo Sports.

Luke Walton accused of sexual assault

Kelli Tennant, a reporter who used to work for Lakers rights holder Spectrum Sportsnet LA, is reportedly alleging Walton assaulted her after calling her into his Santa Monica hotel room to discuss a book she was writing.

The details of what Tennant claims happened, from TMZ:

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.

She says he eventually relented and let her get up from the bed, but as she was walking towards the door to leave he grabbed her from behind and again forced his body up against hers.

It should be noted that a previous version of TMZ’s report indicated the alleged assault occurred in May 2017. It was later updated to note it occurred before Walton’s Lakers tenure.

Tennant reportedly claimed she did not initially report the alleged assault and was forced to continue to interact with Walton once he was hired by the Lakers due to her job. She said that Walton would often greet her with an aggressive hug or kiss despite her telling him the advances were unwanted.

Tennant left Spectrum Sportsnet LA in 2017 and reportedly went dark on her social media accounts for months. She eventually re-emerged with a job for Amazon Prime covering the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour and a podcast focusing on women’s issues, per the Press-Enterprise.

Walton did not respond to a request for comment, according to TMZ.

Walton left the Lakers a couple weeks ago

This accusation against Walton is emerging shortly after his firing from the Lakers following a chaotic season for the team that also saw the departure of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.

Walton was quickly hired by the Kings shortly after his exit.

Lakers and Warriors say incident wasn’t reported to them

Hours later, the Lakers released a statement confirming the alleged incident took place before the team hired Walton and claimed they never received a report before or during his tenure.

The team declined further comment because it no longer employs Walton.

The Warriors also released a statement, saying they only learned of the allegation on Monday and are seeking more information.

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