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Allegations Against Mayor Cause ESPN To Pull Plug On Movie Premiere

ESPN / courtesy

ESPN / courtesy

A decades-old sexual-assault allegation against Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has caused ESPN to re-think its documentary on the efforts to save the Sacramento Kings. 

The cable network released a statement that says it will at least delay a televised presentation of a 30-For-30 film called "Down in the Valley."

"In light of the recent renewed focus on past allegations against one of its key characters – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson – we have decided to postpone the ESPN premiere as we, along with director Jason Hehir, re-examine the presentation and content."

The film was scheduled to be released October 20.

The website Deadspin recently re-reported allegations against the mayor made by a then-16-year-old girl in Phoenix in 1995.

In new reporting, the woman was interviewed for the first time about the allegations and verified previous reports that the Mayor -then a point guard for the NBA's Phoenix Suns- paid her $230,000 in exchange for her silence.

Johnson has always denied the woman's claim and was never charged.

When asked in 2008 if he paid her a settlement, Johnson gave this response: 
“I think the important thing – and I’ve always said this all along – is that you have to protect the rights of individuals.  And privacy rights are at the first and foremost of what I have to do on a regular basis.” 

The mayor's Press Secretary, Ben Sosencko released a statement that says in part, "While it's unfortunate that the air date has been postponed, we’re looking forward to tonight’s premiere and for the rest of the country to learn more about our Sacramento pride." 

A screening of the film in Sacramento will go ahead as planned at the Crest Theater in Sacramento this evening.

The film has already been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Timeline of events, allegations against Mayor Kevin Johnson: 

1996 - A teen, then 16 years old, reports alleged abused to the Phoenix Police Department. The abuse allegedly took place in 1995. He was never charged.

2007 St. Hope teacher reports possible abuse. Charges against Johnson were never filed.

April 2008Reports of the alleged sex abuse in Phoenix comes to light.

August 2008 - Office of Inspector General sends report and referral for criminal and/or civil prosecution against Johnson. The report includes a report of alleged sexual misconduct against Johnson.

November 2008 - Johnson elected as Mayor of Sacramento.

June 2012 - Johnson re-elected as Mayor of Sacramento.

May 2013 - Kings decide to stay in Sacramento.

May 2014 - Sacramento downtown arena approved by the city council

April 2015 - Sex harassment complaint filed against Johnson. Investigation completed by May.

RELATED STORY: April 17, 2008 - Johnson Responds to Release of Police Report

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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