Kings, NBA taking no action against Walton in assault case

Sports
Chris Weber, Vlade Divac, Luke Walton

FILE – In this July 1, 2019, file photo, Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton talks with former Sacramento Kings player Chris Webber, left, as Kings general manager Vlade Divac, obscured at center, looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball summer league gamebetween the Kings and Golden State Warriors in Sacramento, Calif. The Sacramento Kings and the NBA have announced that after a thorough investigation there isn’t enough evidence to support allegations that new coach Luke Walton sexually assaulted a woman. The team and league began a joint investigation in April following a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by former sportscaster Kelli Tennant, who “elected not to participate in the investigation. Based on this and the available evidence, the investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations made against Coach Walton,” the Kings announced in a joint statement with the NBA. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings and the NBA have announced they are taking no action against Luke Walton after not finding enough evidence during an investigation into allegations that the coach sexually assaulted a woman.

The team and league began a joint investigation in April following a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by former sportscaster Kelli Tennant, who “elected not to participate in the investigation. Based on this and the available evidence, the investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations made against coach Walton.”

The Kings and NBA said Friday the matter is considered closed barring further evidence emerging.

Walton was hired by the Kings on April 13 just one day after being dismissed from his first head coaching job with the Lakers.

“Luke Walton is our head coach and we support him and his team as they continue to prepare for the upcoming season,” the Kings said in a statement.

Tennant said that Walton attacked her when he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, which was from 2014 to 2016. The woman said she confided in people at the time but never filed charges because she was scared. Her lawyer, Garo Mardirossian, said because years had passed, he believed it would be difficult now to file a police report and put together a criminal case.

Tennant 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.

“I am 100 percent focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings, and energized to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start the preseason,” Walton said in a statement. “I will have no further comment.”

The Kings investigatory team was led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, the founding partner of the Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux who specializes in employment law. Elizabeth Maringer, senior vice president and assistant general counsel of the NBA, led the league’s investigation.

More than 20 people were interviewed during the investigation process, including Walton. Friday’s release said investigators attempted repeatedly to speak with Tennant but she opted through her legal representative not to take part.

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