The Sacramento Kings and NBA announced Thursday that they have launched a joint investigation into allegations made in a civil suit against coach Luke Walton, claiming that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2014.
"The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will work together to conduct a thorough and thorough investigation," the team and the League said in a statement.
The Kings investigation is led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, founding partner of the Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux. and Jennifer Doughty, a senior lawyer in the firm.
The NBA investigation is led by Elizabeth Maringer, the senior vice president and assistant general counsel of the League, Integrity and Investigations.
Kelli Tennant – a former host of Spectrum SportsNet LA, the Lakers' regional sports network – claims Walton, then an assistant to the Golden State Warriors, who was on a road trip in Los Angeles, sexually assaulted her hotel room in Santa Monica, California. Tennant's lawyer says it happened in 2014. Tennant said Tuesday she was worried that Walton was going to rape her, and she had not gone public earlier with the allegations because she was afraid.
Tennant had a working relationship with Walton during his time as a guest analyst at Spectrum. In the lawsuit, she claims she met with him at the Casa Del Mar Hotel to make a copy of her book, "A Guide For Athletes Passing To A World After Sport," for which he wrote the foreword.
Tennant claims that Walton invited her into his room, where he pushed her to the bed and forced her to kiss and probe her.
Tennant said she did not go to the police or talk to Spectrum officials at the time. She was only 25 years old and was scared.
Walton's lawyer, Mark Baute, called the allegations "groundless" and said Tennant was "an opportunist."
"These allegations are wrong and Luke's innocence is proved in court". Baute said Wednesday in a statement. "The 19459013 press conference was a poorly staged attempt to portray the prosecutor as a viable spokesman for a major movement, whose lawyers want to create a public circus that distracts from their utter lack of evidence to support their outrageous claims, and we will not try in the media, or pay a penny. "
The kings shut down Walton earlier this month, shortly after he and the Lakers split up.