We said it before and we’ll say it again: Female sports reporters experience sexual harassment and assault from coaches, players, and other male colleagues. Former Spectrum SportsNet host Kelli Tennant is another woman speaking out about her terrifying experience with Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Kelli recounted how Luke forced himself on her at the Casa del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, California. According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, he invited her to his room to “catch up.” Instead, he allegedly pinned her down on the bed, forcibly kissed her, and rubbed his erection on her. “And as I kept asking him to please stop and to get off, he laughed at me,” she said. “I thought he was going to rape me.”
After the ordeal, the Kelli claimed in the lawsuit that Luke “walked her out of the room as if nothing had happened.” He also allegedly told her “Good to see you” as if it was a joke that he’d sexually assaulted the woman.
This inappropriate behavior allegedly didn’t stop there. TMZ reported, “She says each time she saw him, Walton would make implied threats of additional physical threats through his conduct—imposing himself on her with big hugs or a kiss, even though she thought she made it clear his advances were unwanted.”
Kelli didn’t specify when it happened, but she had said Luke was still an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. This was around 2014 to 2016. The New York Times reported that the Warriors were unaware. The Los Angeles Lakers, where Luke served as head coach, said they had no knowledge of this. Meanwhile, the NBA are working with the Sacramento Kings to investigate the matter.
The two met through their sports analysis professions and Kelli is friends with his wife, Bre Ladd. TMZ recently spotted Luke and Bre in Beverly Hills before the lawsuit was brought up in public.
Luke, on the other hand, has firmly denied these accusations. His lawyer, Mark D. Baute said in a statement, “The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
Kelli Tennant and her attorney hold a news conference accusing former Lakers coach Luke Walton of sexually assaulting her in 2016.
Walton’s attorney calls the claim baseless.
— Rob Hayes (@abc7robhayes) April 23, 2019
It’s incredibly disturbing how common sexual harassment and assault is in sports. Earlier this year, a South Korean Olympic skater came forward with stories of coaches sexually abusing them. It’s a similar tale to disgraced former US gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who molested over 150 young women.
We hope Kelli finds justice and that Luke gets the appropriate penalty for such actions. We will update this story as more details come up from this case.[Vogue and The New York Times]
Photo courtesy of Kelli Tennant’s Instagram account
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