In response to sexual assault allegations made against newly-hired Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton the Kings and the National Basketball Association announced on Thursday that they are conducting a joint investigation. Two Sacramento lawyers will be a part of that investigative process.
The allegations were made by Kelli Tennant, who used to cover the Los Angeles Lakers and other Southern California teams for Spectrum SportsNet LA. Tennant's attorneys filed a civil lawsuit against Walton on Monday, then they joined her for Tuesday news conference to provide details on what she claims Walton did to her in his hotel room back in 2014.
The Kings said they have hired Sue Ann Van Dermyden and Jennifer A. Doughty to lead their investigative team. Both attorneys are with Sacramento-based Van Dermyden Maddux Investigations Law Firm.
Van Dermyden, is a founding partner of the firm. Her current practice is focused on workplce and Title IX campus investigation, according to her online biography. She reportedly has decades of investigative experience.
Doughty is a senior associate with Van Dermyden Maddux, and is considered to be a veteran investigator in cases like this one.
Van Dermyden Maddux was one of two law firms hired to conduct a two-year investigation into sexual harassment allegations in the California State Senate. The firm also investigated sexual harassment claims made against Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren by a former city aide of his in 2014.
The NBA's investigation will be headed by Elizabeth Maringer, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Integrity and Investigations. Maringer also worked for 12 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the Southern District of New York before accepting her current job with the NBA.
Kings officials said they and NBA "take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation." The team and Van Dermyden Maddux have declined to comment any further on the investigation.
Walton, who was hired as the Kings new coach on April 15th, has not spoken publicly about the extent of his relationship with Tennant or her allegations. His attorney, Mark Baute, said earlier this week that the claims in Tennant's lawsuit are "baseless," and he will prove that in court. Baute responded to Tennant's news conference by insisting that his client will not "pay them a dime."