Recently departed Lakers head coach, former Warriors assistant coach, and newly hired coach of the Sacramento Kings, Luke Walton, has been sued by a female sports reporter over an incident from several years ago in which she says Walton sexually assaulted her.
Sports writer Kelli Tennant claims in a legal filing obtained by TMZ that while Walton was still working for the Golden State Warriors, Walton invited her to a Santa Monica hotel where he was staying to drop off a copy of a book that she had published. (Tennant's book, The Transition: Every Athlete's Guide to Life After Sports, came out in 2014, and begins with a forward written by Walton.)
According to legal documents, Tennant says that Walton convinced her to come up to his room, and once there, forced himself on her and pinned her down on the bed.
Tennant claims Walton then began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest. She claims she screamed for him to stop and tried to free herself, but he held her down, groped her breasts and groin, and rubbed his erection on her leg.
She says he eventually relented and let her get up from the bed, but as she was walking towards the door to leave he grabbed her from behind and again forced his body up against hers.
Tennant further claims in the suit that Walton said, "Good to see you," as she was on her way out the door. And in the years since, because of her job, she has continued running into Walton because of her profession, and that he tends to hug her too tightly and say inappropriate things to her.
Walton abruptly left his job with Lakers last week under unclear circumstances, and it remains possible that word of this lawsuit could have had something to do with it.
The Sacramento Kings, who hired Walton as their head coach, gave a statement to TMZ Sports Monday saying simply, "We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information."
Walton has been married to his college sweetheart Bre Ladd since 2013, and he has worked for the Lakers since April 2016.
TMZ tried to talk to Walton over the weekend when he was spotted out in LA on a date night with his wife, but he declined to comment saying, "I'm on a date with my wife I'm not talking about basketball."
Update: Walton's attorney, Mark Baute, gave a statement saying, "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom."