On Friday, the NBA and the Sacramento Kings announced that there was insufficient evidence to support former SportsNet LA reporter Kelli Tennant’s sexual assault claims against current Kings head coach Luke Walton.
Notably, Tennant did not participate in the investigation, per the Sacramento Bee.
A local law firm hired by the league and the Kings interviewed more than 20 people, including friends and former colleagues of Tennant and Walton, but were not able to corroborate Tennant’s claims that Walton assaulted her, pinned her down on a bed and tried to have sex with her in his Los Angeles hotel room when he was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.
Tennant declined to participate in the investigation, according to a joint press release by the Kings and the NBA. Tennant made her accusations against Walton in April, only a week after he had been introduced to the community as the new Kings coach. Tennant’s attorney, Garo Mardirossian of Los Angeles, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Tennant made her claims public back in April as part of a lawsuit filed against Walton, which has still not been resolved.
Here are some of the claims Tennant made, from an April press conference.
Tennant added plenty of context to the initial news, saying that alleged sexual assault took place in 2014. She arrived at the hotel thinking they would speak in the lobby but Walton told her that they should go to his room instead. Then, “out of nowhere,” he pinned Tennant to the bed and started kissing her unwantedly. She added that when Walton grabbed her, Tennant begged him to let her go but he laughed at her and kept trying. She said that Walton held her down and rubbed his erection on her, continuing to laugh at her pleas to stop. However, she was finally able to get up and tried to leave the room but Walton allegedly grabbed her and started kissing her again. He finally relented and let her leave the hotel room.
With Tennant not participating in the league’s investigation, the focus of that investigation was placed on “details in her lawsuit and her public comments”.
It’s important to remember that this judgment by the NBA and the Kings does not have a direct effect on Tennant’s lawsuit which, if it goes to trial, could bring this alleged incident back into the spotlight, reveal further details, and create an uproar around the non-punishment dished out to Walton.