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Woman Says She Feared Pitino's Wrath

Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino Karen Cunagin Sypher and Karen Cunagin Sypher.
AP Photo
The woman accused of trying to extort as much as $10 million from Rick Pitino over a sexual encounter says the Louisville coach orchestrated a plot to keep her silent, including a claim that her current husband was paid to marry her.

Karen Sypher, whose extortion charge is still pending, says in Friday's edition of the New York Post that Pitino - a married father of five - engaged her at a Louisville restaurant in 2003, where the sexual encounter is said to have occurred. Pitino admitted to the tryst Wednesday and issued a public apology.

Sypher told the Post that Pitino forced her to have an abortion and feared for her life if she did not follow his order.

"I'll never forget. I wanted to have the baby, but Rick said my children would all be in concrete. I lived in fear for five years," Sypher told the newspaper.

The Post reported that Sypher, whose last name at the time of the encounter was Cunagin, went on to claim that her subsequent marriage to Tim Sypher - Pitino's equipment manager - was all part of an elaborate plot Pitino used to keep the incident private.

"The feds bugged my house and put surveillance everywhere with Tim's help," said Sypher, who is currently going through a divorce.

"I now think my husband was paid to marry me."

Pitino's job at Louisville appears safe after school president James Ramsey said Thursday it was time to move on and that the coach is "our guy."

"This woman is incapable of telling the truth," said Pitino's lawyer, Steve Pence. "She is extremely deceitful, and in many ways disturbed."