The Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association say there’s "insufficient basis" to act on sexual harassment and assault claims by a Southern California woman against head coach Luke Walton.
Kelli Tenant, a former sports reporter, filed a lawsuit accusing Walton of pinning her down and groping her in a Los Angeles hotel room in 2014, when he was an assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors.
The Kings and the league hired a local law firm, which interviewed 20 individuals including Walton, as part of a four-month investigation , and could not confirm her allegations.
In a statement released by the team on Friday, the Kings and the league say Tennant "elected not to participate in the investigation" despite repeated attempts to schedule an interview.
CapRadio has reached out to Tennant’s attorney to discuss the Kings statement.
She filed a civil lawsuit against the coach in April and held a press conference the next day, during which she described her claims of sexual assault, verbal and physical harassment and unwanted physical contact by Walton over a three-year period.
Two days later, the Kings and the NBA announced they would investigate. Walton continued in his position as head coach
Sue Ann Van Dermyden, from the Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Elizabeth Maringer, senior vice president and assistant general counsel of the NBA, led the inquiry.
In 2018, Van Dermyden Maddux was one of the law firms hired by the California Assembly and Senate to investigate similar allegations.
Walton released a statement on Friday in response to the team’s investigation.
“I am 100% focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings, and energized to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start the preseason. I will have no further comment” he said.
The team and the league say they consider the matter closed, but held open the possibility of revisiting the allegations if new evidence becomes available.
In April, Tennant’s attorney Garo Mardirossian said his client does not want to pursue criminal charges against Walton.
“Our interest is not to have Mr. Walton put in jail or to be investigated by the police necessarily,” he said. “Our interest was for [Tennant] to feel better about herself, to come out and talk about what happened to her
Walton’s attorney Mark Baute has previously called Tennant’s allegations "baseless," referring to her as “an opportunist, not a victim.”
Walton was announced as the Kings latest head coach in April, one week prior to Tennant’s lawsuit.
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