Luke Walton is being sued by a sports reporter who says the NBA coach sexually assaulted her, according to a court document filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The suit, which was first reported by TMZ, alleges that Walton groped and forcibly kissed the reporter, Kelli Tennant, in a Santa Monica hotel room on an unspecified date.
The Sacramento Kings coach, a former Los Angeles Lakers forward who won two championships with the team, previously served as assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors and head coach with the Lakers beginning in 2016.
Though the suit does not specify the date of the alleged assault, it indicates it happened while Walton was an assistant coach for the Warriors, a position he took beginning in the 2014-2015 season.
He was named the Kings new coach April 14.
Mark Baute, Walton’s lawyer, said on Tuesday that Tennant’s claim is “baseless.”
“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom,” Baute said in a statement.
The Kings said it was aware of the accusations.
“We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time,” the team said Monday night.
The Lakers said the alleged incident occurred before Walton was the team’s coach.
“At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers,” a statement from the team said. “If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA.”
The lawsuit alleges that Walton pinned Tennant — a former host of SportsNet LA — on the bed of his hotel room after she dropped off a book she’d written for student-athletes. Walton, who Tennant had known for years and considered a “trusted mentor and colleague,” had written the book’s forward, according to the complaint, which claims sexual assault and battery.
Walton allegedly groped, forcefully kissed and held down Tennant, the complaint alleges.