NBA, Kings announce joint investigation into Walton allegations

The Sacramento Kings and the NBA announced Thursday they will conduct a joint investigation into sexual assault allegations against new Kings coach Luke Walton.

"The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation," the statement concludes.

Handling the investigation for the Kings will be Sue Ann Van Dermyden, a founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Jennifer Doughty, a veteran investigator and senior associate attorney of the firm.

SEE ALSO: Report: Female reporter sues Luke Walton for sexual assault

The NBA's investigation will be headed up by Elizabeth Maringer, a senior vice president and assistant general counsel for the league. She previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York for over a decade.

Former sports reporter Kelli Tennant filed a lawsuit against Walton on Monday, claiming she was assaulted by Walton at a Santa Monica hotel. Her attorney said the assault occurred in 2014.

Luke Walton through his career
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Luke Walton through his career
New Los Angeles Lakers draftee Luke Walton answers questions during a news conference at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, Calif., Wednesday, July 2, 2003. (AP Photo/Jerome T. Nakagawa)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, center, jokes around with teammates Bryan Russell, left, and Luke Walton during the first annual Palms Casino Royale to benefit the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation, Thursday night, April 8, 2004, in Santa Monica, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
** CORRECTS TO BYRON RUSSELL KNEELING NOT MALONE ** Los Angeles Lakers from left, Brian Cook, Luke Walton Rick Fox and Byron Russell, kneeling, watch as the Detroit Pistons win Game 4, 88-80, to take a 3-1 series lead in their NBA Finals in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sunday, June 13, 2004. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Los Angeles Lakers' Luke Walton poses for a television filming during Laker's Media Day in El Segundo, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 3, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) talks to teammate Luke Walton (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Dec. 14, 2007. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles Lakers' Luke Walton, left, is defended by Minnesota Timberwolves' Marko Jaric, right, of Serbia during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Luke Walton smiles during a Los Angeles Lakers NBA post-championship basketball season interview at Lakers headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton, left, works against Sacramento Kings guard Beno Udrih, right, of Slovenia, during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, April 7, 2009. The Lakers beat the Kings 122-104. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Los Angeles Lakers' Luke Walton during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 in Minneapolis. The Lakers won 112-95. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Luke Walton (4) drives to the basket around Milwaukee Bucks' Ersan Ilyasova (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luke Walton (4) reacts after he was called for a flagrant foul against the Atlanta Hawks in the second half of an NBA basketball game at Philips Arena in Atlanta, on Monday, April 1, 2013. Atlanta won 102-94. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton, right, talks to Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton calls a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Suns won 119-115. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Denver. The Nuggets won 115-100. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and head coach Luke Walton dispute a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Al Drago)
Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton stands near the bench in the waning minutes of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in Denver. The Nuggets won 117-85. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

On Wednesday, Walton's attorney, Mark Baute, disputed Tennant's allegations.

"These claims are false and Luke's innocence will be proven in court. Yesterday's press conference was a poorly staged attempt to portray the accuser as a viable spokesperson for an important movement," Baute said in a statement. "Her lawyers want to create a public circus to distract from their complete lack of evidence to support their outrageous claims. We will not try this case in the media or pay them a dime."

The incident allegedly occurred when Walton was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. Tennant said she stopped by the hotel Walton was staying at to drop off a copy of a book she had written, for which Walton wrote the foreword. Tennant claims Walton wanted to have the conversation in his hotel room.

According to Tennant, things got out of hand quickly after she entered the hotel room.

"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 said during a news conference.

According to Tennant, she asked Walton to stop and he laughed at her. Tennant said she thought she was about to get raped but eventually broke free and left the room.

Tennant, 31, said she was afraid to come forward earlier, partly because of Walton's status as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. She said a large part of her motivation for going public now is her own well-being.

The Santa Monica Police Department told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that the 39-year-old Walton is not under investigation.

The Lakers, who dismissed Walton earlier this month, said the team had no knowledge of the allegation prior to Monday.

Tennant is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

--Field Level Media

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