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Trail Blazers did not talk to accuser in Chauncey Billups' rape allegation, report reveals

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When the Portland Trail Blazers announced Chauncey Billups as their next head coach, they said they independently investigated his past, including a rape allegation from 1997.

However, an Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) investigation shows that the Blazers' vetting may not have been as thorough as the organization claimed.

Billups settled a civil lawsuit in 2000 in which a woman alleged that Billups and his former Boston Celtics teammate Ron Mercer raped her at the home of Antoine Walker, another Celtics player. Criminal charges were never filed, but police reports stated that a rape kit examination of the victim showed injuries consistent with sexual assault.

In Billups' first press conference after he was announced as the Blazers' new head coach, general manager Neil Olshey refused to tell reporters which firm conducted the independent investigation or offer any other details, claiming that they were "proprietary." A moderator at the press conference also prevented Billups from answering a question about how the 1997 incident shaped his life in "profound ways."

When the Blazers introduced Chauncey Billups as their new head coach on June 29, Neil Olshey (right) said that the franchise conducted a thorough investigation into the rape allegations against Billups.
When the Blazers introduced Chauncey Billups as their new head coach on June 29, Neil Olshey (right) said that the franchise conducted a thorough investigation into the rape allegations against Billups.

"You’re just going to have to take our word that we hired an experience firm that ran an investigation that gave us the results we already discussed," Olshey said at the news conference.

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OPB, a National Public Radio affiliate based in Portland, attempted to retrace the steps that the Blazers could have taken in investigating the rape allegation and found several significant oversights. Most notably, no one affiliated with the team contacted Billups' accuser or her attorney, Margaret Burnham.

“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” Burnham told OPB.

OPB also reported that the Blazers also did not contact Thomas Reilly, the former district attorney who led the investigation into the 1997 allegation. Reilly told OPB that he still believes Billups is innocent of rape, but he refused to tell the reporters the evidence that he felt supported that conclusion.

The Waltham Police Department, which is the police force local to the Boston suburb where the rape allegedly occurred, received a request for information about Billups' case from the Oregon-based security firm Alder Group. The police chief said they were unable to release any information because Massachusetts law prohibits police from releasing reports about sexual assault or domestic violence.

Ashley Clinkscale, the Blazers’ senior vice president for communications, community and diversity, doubled down on the quality of the investigation in an email to OPB.

“We took the allegations very seriously by commissioning a thorough and independent investigation into the incident in 1997, in addition to our normal course of vetting employees, players, and leadership," Clinkscale wrote.

Contact Emily Adams at eaadams@gannett.com or on Twitter @eaadams6.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Report: Blazers did not talk to accuser in Billups' rape allegation