May 24, 2019
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Kings, NBA probe sexual assault allegations against coach Walton

 Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton argues a call with an official during the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat at the AmericanAirlines Arena Miami, Florida, USA, Mar. 1, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/RHONA WISE SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton argues a call with an official during the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat at the AmericanAirlines Arena Miami, Florida, USA, Mar. 1, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/RHONA WISE SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

Sacramento, USA, Apr 25 (efe-epa).- The Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association have opened a joint investigation into allegations that Kings coach Luke Walton sexually assaulted a woman, the two entities said in a statement on Thursday.

Walton signed a contract with the Kings on Apr. 15, after parting ways with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"The Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association announced today that they have commenced a joint investigation into the allegations contained in a civil lawsuit filed Monday against Kings Head Coach Luke Walton," said the statement.

The process will allow Kings and the League to study the accusations included in the lawsuit, filed on Monday in Los Angeles by former sportscaster Kelli Tennant.

The Kings have hired Sue Ann Van Dermyden, founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, an expert on employment law with "decades of experience" in conducting investigations, and Jennifer Doughty - a veteran investigator and senior associate attorney at Van Dermyden Maddux - to lead the investigation team, the statement said.

The NBA's investigatory team will be led by Elizabeth Maringer, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Integrity and Investigations.

"Prior to joining the NBA, Ms. Maringer served 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including three as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division," the statement explained.

"The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation," the franchise and league said.

Walton's lawyer Mark Baute said the allegations were "baseless" and the coach would prove so in the court.

Tennant claims that Walton attacked her when he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, a post he held between 2014 and 2016.

The former sports commentator said she had confided in some people at the time but did not file charges because she was scared.

Her lawyer Garo Mardirossian said it might be difficult to file a police report and file criminal charges due to the time that has passed since the alleged incident.

Tennant said Walton continued to harass her after becoming the head coach for the Lakers and she was working in Los Angeles as a broadcaster for Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA.

The complainant, who now produces a wellness podcast, acknowledged that 39-year-old Walton - son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton - had been a longtime friend and mentor.

She says the coach had written the foreword to a 2014 book by Tennant, and when she went to give him a copy while he was at a Santa Monica hotel during a Warriors road trip, he invited her to his room.

The sportscaster alleges that after discussing the book, Walton suddenly grabbed her, pinned her to the bed and forcibly kissed her and when she asked him to get off, "he laughed at me", she said.

Tennant said Walton relented, but when she started to leave the room but he grabbed her again and kissed her ears and neck, before finally stopping, laughing and saying "good to see you" before she left.

rm/ia/ks

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