Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton in the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Ex-Warriors assistant Luke Walton accused of sexual assault

Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton accused of sexual assault by reporter

Former Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton — recently named the head coach of the Sacramento Kings — has been accused of sexual assault by a reporter, TMZ Sports reported on Monday.

Citing legal documents, TMZ reported that former reporter Kelli Tennant has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Walton, 39, for an alleged incident that occured during his time as an assistant coach for the Warriors.

Tennant, then working for Sportsnet LA, claimed to have gone to Walton’s hotel room at the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, while he was an assistant for the Warriors, to give him a copy of a book for which he wrote a foreward, when Walton invited her up to his room and pinned her to the bed, forcibly kissed her and groped her. He had invited her to his room so as not to be in the public eye, according to the suit.

No date was given for the assault, but the lawsuit states that the incident allegedly occurred during his tenure with the Warriors. The book came out in 2014.

Golden State released a statement on Monday night: “We became aware of the alleged incident and story this evening and are in the process of seeking more information. We’ll have no further comment at this time.”

Walton, who was an assistant for the Warriors from 2014-16, spent the last three seasons as the head coach for the Lakers, during which time Tennant had to interact with him in the execution of her job. The Los Angeles Times reported that Tennant’s lawyer declined to say whether she reported the alleged assault to police. According to the suit, Tennant knew both Walton and his wife through the competitive volleyball circuit, as both women played in college, with Tennant playing for USC.

According to pages of the lawsuit tweeted out by KCRA-TV’s Michelle Drapper, Tennant viewed Walton as a “trusted mentor and colleague,” after he had served as one of the lead analysts covering Lakers games early in her tenure at Spectrum SportsNet LA.

She said that Walton continued to harass her after he became head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and she was working as a broadcaster in Los Angeles. Tennant spent five years with Time Warner — which owns Spectrum SportsNet LA — where she covered baseball, basketball and soccer, along with studio show responsibilities. She left Spectrum SportsNet LA in the fall of 2017, and eventually resurfaced with Amazon Prime, covering the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour. She currently hosts a podcast called Ceremony Wellness.

The Lakers, who hired Walton as their head coach after his two seasons with Golden State, said in a statement that “at no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers. If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA. Since Luke Walton is now under contract to another team, we will have no further comment.”

Earlier this month, Walton and the Lakers mutually parted ways, and three days later, he was hired by the Kings, who have said that they are aware of the report, and are gathering additional information.

Per ESPN, the NBA is also opening an investigation.

This story has been updated.

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