A former sports rep that accused the former Los Angeles Lakers main rival Luke Walton of sexual assault has spoken publicly about his allegations and told reporters Tuesday: "I thought he would rape me."
Kelli Tennant filed the suit against Walton, recently hired as head of the Sacramento Kings, Monday night in Los Angeles County Superior Court. At a press conference on Tuesday, she accounted for the alleged attack by Walton at a hotel in Santa Monica in the fall of 2014 when he was assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors.
Tennant, a former USC volleyball player who had become a reporter for Spectrum SportsNet Los Angeles, had stopped at the hotel to give Walton a copy of his book "The Transition", which he had written forwards. She said Walton met her in the lobby and took her up to her room because she said, "The players on his team [the Warriors] were in the lobby and he couldn't be around them to be seen in the lobby with the players."
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Once in his hotel room, Tennant said, Walton "came up on me and strapped me to the bed and held my arms down with all his weight as he kissed my neck and my face and chest. And when I still asked him to stop and get off, he laughed at me. "She added that she could feel Walton rubbing her with his erect penis "and he continued to laugh at all my reasons for coming off and stopping."
Tennant claimed that after she was able to get out of bed, Walton came around and grabbed me behind and held my arms down so that I couldn't move and started kissing my neck again. I asked him to let go and stop, and he continued to laugh in my ear. He finally let me go and I got out of the room. "
Tennant's lawyer, Garo Mardirossian, told reporters that she entrusted her closest family and other people with the alleged incident, but did not tell anyone to SportsNet and never filed charges.
" Our interest is not to have Mr. Walton was in prison or being investigated by the police, necessarily, "said Mardirossian." Our interest was for Kelli to feel better about herself, to come out and talk about what happened to her and that was what she asked
When asked by reporters Mardirossian, however, said he had not closed the door to press criminal charges against Walton.
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Walton's lawyer Mark Baute called the claims "Baseless", saying in a statement that Tennant "is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom. "
" I was afraid, "said Tennant, when he was asked why she didn't come before." When someone attacks you and you think you're raped, Fearful something … I was afraid of my job, my safety and what my livelihood would be. "
Walton, a son of the Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton won two championships with the Lakers during an 11-year NBA career. said the two became close when he worked as a studio analyst at Lakers telecasts at SportsNet LA and described him as "a mentor and a friend and a person I looked up to."
After Walton was appointed head coach of the Lakers in 2016 Tennant was promoted to a full-time Lakers reporter for the network and had to repeat with him repeatedly in practice as well as before and after games. She claimed that "every time I turned out to practice or play, he [Walton] would be sure to hug me and kiss me on my cheek. .. with many people around and I couldn't do anything. completely normal all the time, and I felt I had no place to turn. "
The warriors and the Lakers said they both first heard about the allegations after TMZ had reported the lawsuit on Monday night and had no further comments. The kings said they were aware of the report and collected information but had no other comment
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Walton was fired as Lakers coach earlier this month after making a record of 98-148 over three seasons, missing the playoffs every season.
"This kind of behavior cannot be condoned, and no woman must ever be made to feel like a victim," said Tennant, adding that she hoped Walton "teaches a lesson and knows he can never do it again . "
Associated Press contributed to this report.