Kings introduce Luke Walton as new head coach
Newly hired Kings coach Luke Walton was accused of sexual assault by sports reporter Kelli Tennant, and each party is being represented by attorneys who have histories of handling high-profile cases.
In legal documents, it is alleged that Walton pinned Tennant to a bed, forcibly kissed her, felt her breasts and groin and rubbed his erection on her leg, as first reported Monday evening by TMZ. This allegedly occurred in a Santa Monica hotel room, reportedly while Walton was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors but with no exact date specified.
Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, issued a statement to The Bee late Monday night in which he vehemently denied the accusations and called the claim “not credible.”
“Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations,” Baute told The Bee. “The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”
Both Baute and the attorney representing Tennant, Garo Mardirossian, have been involved in high-profile legal cases involving professional athletes.
What is Baute known for?
Baute defended NBA star Derrick Rose in 2016. Rose faced rape allegations from an ex-girlfriend, but was cleared by a Los Angeles jury in federal court that October.
The woman had accused Rose and two of his friends of drugging and raping her in 2013, in a civil suit that sought $21.5 million. A jury rejected the allegations against Rose and the two co-defendants, and Baute told media that the accusation was a bid to extract money from Rose, who had ended a relationship with the woman in 2013, as reported by the Associated Press and other news outlets.
Baute also told reporters following the verdict that “media reporting in this case was biased against a black man,” as reported by Reuters.
Baute also defended actor Charlize Theron, who in 2008 was sued by Swiss luxury watch company Raymond Weil. Raymond Weil alleged that Theron breached the terms of a 2005 contract by appearing in promotional photoshoots for other luxury brands, according to federal court documents.
Raymond Weil sued Theron in the Southern District of New York, seeking $20 million. The lawsuit was settled out of court in November 2008 for an undisclosed amount.