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May 22, 2019

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New Kings coach Luke Walton sued for sexual assault

Lakers

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

In this Oct. 20, 2018, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton directs his team during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles. A person with direct knowledge of the agreement said Saturday, April 13, 2019, that Walton will become coach of the Sacramento Kings, just a day after parting ways with the Lakers following three losing seasons.

LOS ANGELES — New Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton has been accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit by a former sports reporter.

Kelli Tennant filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday alleging that Walton assaulted her in a hotel room in Santa Monica during his time as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. TMZ first reported the lawsuit.

According to the suit, Tennant considered Walton to be a friend and mentor and was also friendly with his wife before the incident that occurred when she tried to deliver him a copy of her book that Walton wrote the forward for while he stayed at the Casa Del Mar Hotel during a Warriors road trip to Los Angeles.

Tennant said Walton met her in the lobby and invited her back to his room. After discussing the book, Tennant said Walton suddenly pinned her to the bed, and forcibly kissed her. She said she yelled "Stop!" but Walton used his full body weight to keep her on the bed, where he groped her and forcibly kissed her. She said he laughed as she asked him to stop.

Tennant said Walton finally relented and she started to leave the room when he grabbed her again and kissed her ears and neck. She said he finally stopped, laughed and said "Good to see you" before she left the room.

Tennant said she confided with people at the time of the alleged attack but never filed charges. She said Walton continued to harass her after he became coach of the Lakers and she was working as a broadcaster in Los Angeles for Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA.

The Warriors and Lakers said they both first heard of the allegations after TMZ reported the lawsuit on Monday night and had no further comment. Walton was an assistant with Golden State from 2014-16 before being hired as Lakers head coach.

Walton was dismissed by the Lakers earlier this month and hired by the Kings.

The Kings say they are aware of the report and gathering additional information. The team had no other comment.