Los Angeles — New Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton has been accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit by a former sports reporter. Kelli Tennant filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, contending Walton assaulted her in a hotel room in Santa Monica while he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. TMZ first reported the lawsuit.
Walton's attorney, Mark Baute, called the allegations "baseless." "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible," Baute said in a statement. "We intend to prove this in a courtroom."
According to the suit, Tennant had considered Walton to be a friend and mentor, and she was friendly with his wife. Walton also wrote the foreword to her book. She says she went to give him a copy while he stayed at the Casa Del Mar Hotel during a Warriors road trip to Los Angeles.
Tennant said Walton met her in the lobby and invited her back to his room. After discussing the book, Tennant said Walton suddenly pinned her to the bed and forcibly kissed and groped her. She said Walton used his full body weight to keep her on the bed and laughed when she yelled "stop!"
Tennant said Walton relented and she started to leave the room when he grabbed her again and kissed her ears and neck. She said he finally stopped, laughed and said "good to see you" before she left the room.
Tennant said she confided with people at the time but never filed charges. She said Walton continued to harass her after he became coach of the Lakers and she was working as a broadcaster in Los Angeles for Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA. She now does a wellness podcast.
The Warriors and Lakers said they both first heard of the allegations when TMZ reported the lawsuit on Monday night and had no further comment. Walton was an assistant with Golden State from 2014-16 before being hired as Lakers head coach. Walton was dismissed by the Lakers earlier this month after a disappointing season, but was hired just a few days later by the Kings, CBS Sports reported.
Walton was officially introduced as their new head coach just last week. The Kings said they are aware of the report and gathering additional information but had no other comment.