TV Reporter Kelli Tennant Accuses NBA Coach Luke Walton of Sexual Assault: ‘He Laughed at Me’

Steve Helling
Kelli Tennant Accuses Luke Walton of Sexual Assault

A former sports reporter has accused the new coach of the Sacramento Kings of sexually assaulting her several years ago.

Kelli Tenant alleges that Luke Walton pinned her to a bed in a Santa Monica hotel room against her will — and when she told him to stop, she says he laughed at her.

The alleged assault occurred after Tenant wrote a book called The Transition: Every Athlete’s Guide to Life After Sports. Walton, then an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, wrote the foreword. According to Sports IllustratedTennant offered to drop off a copy of the book at Walton’s hotel room in Santa Monica.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Tennant claimed that Walton had met her in the hotel’s lobby. She alleges that he invited her up to his room. There, she says, they briefly discussed the book before he grabbed her.

“Out of nowhere, he got on top of me and pinned me down to the bed and held my arms down with all of his weight while he kissed my neck and my face and my chest,” Tennant told reporters on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. She alleges when she asked him to stop, “he laughed at me.”

“I thought he was going to rape me,” she alleged in the press conference.

Tennant says that Walton eventually let her off the bed. As she left the room, she says he grabbed her again and kissed her neck. She says he finally stopped kissing her and said, “good to see you,” before allowing her to leave the room.

When a reporter asked Tennant why she did not report the alleged assault to police or her employer, she said that she confided in people at the time, but didn’t file charges. “I was scared,” she said. “I felt coming forward would jeopardize every aspect of my life.”

Tennant’s attorney, Garo Mardirossian, said that a criminal case was unlikely because several years have passed. Tennant has filed a civil suit in Los Angeles County, PEOPLE confirms.

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Mardirossian released a statement during the press conference.

“Women connected to the National Basketball Association have long had to suffer in silence through the indignities of gender abuse and sexual exploitation at the hands of famous, wealthy and powerful men,” Mardiorssian wrote. “Aided by their fame, money and power, and motivated by a culture that tolerates gender-bias, too many men in professional basketball inappropriately abuse women.”

“As alleged in the lawsuit, Kelli Tennant—a former collegiate athlete and star sports broadcaster, is a woman who has had to tolerate and suffer in silence from the abuse she suffered at the hands of Luke Walton,” he continued. “By way of this lawsuit, Ms. Tennant is speaking out and saying #timesup to the culture of abusing women in the NBA.”

Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, released a statement that called the allegations “baseless.”

“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible,” the statement reads. “We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”

After the news conference, the Sacramento Kings issued a short statement.  “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information,” the statement reads. “We have no further comment at this time.”

Attorneys for Tennant and Walton did not immediately return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.