Former New York Knicks player Kristaps Porzingis has been accused of raping a woman in New York just hours after he suffered a career-stalling knee injury during a game last year, reports said Saturday.
The woman made her claim to police Thursday, more than a year after the alleged assault. She told police that she visited Porzingis' Manhattan penthouse at his invitation around 2 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2018, the New York Post reported, citing law enforcement sources. She reportedly lived in the same building.
The woman reportedly told police she waited over a year to come forward because she had been in discussions with Porzingis over a $68,000 hush-money payment intended for her brother’s college tuition, a source told the Post. The accuser is considered “believable,” according to the source.
A lawyer for Porzingis, who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks, said the player denies the allegation “unequivocally.” He said they alerted federal law enforcement in December to the accuser’s “extortionate demands.”
“We also alerted the National Basketball Association months ago and they are aware of the ongoing investigation of the accuser by federal law enforcement,” said his lawyer, Roland G. Riopelle. “We cannot comment further on an ongoing federal investigation.”
NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN the league is “aware of the situation.”
The 7-foot-3 Latvian was playing for the Knicks and had just torn his ACL hours before the alleged assault on the woman, a Navy petty officer originally from Nigeria, sources told the New York Daily News.
The woman told police that Porzingis held her down on a bed, hit her several times in the face, and raped her, the source said. She reportedly hesitated to come forward for fear of hurting the center’s NBA career.
Porzingis was traded to the Mavericks on Jan. 31, though he has yet to make an appearance on the court as he is still recovering from the ACL injury. The Knicks informed Dallas of the pending rape allegations ahead of the deal, league sources told ESPN.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the Post via email that "we have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment," although the team is aware of the accusation.