Pitino to take stand soon
Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 3:02 pm
By: By BRETT BARROUQUERE, Associated Press Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rick Pitino’s lawyer said the Louisville basketball coach might testify today or Wednesday in the case of a woman accused of trying to extort him.
Attorney Steve Pence, a former federal prosecutor, told The Associated Press that Pitino’s testimony could last at least half a day in the case of Karen Cunagin Sypher. Pitino was not at the trial Monday.
Sypher, 50, has pleaded not guilty to extortion, retaliating against a witness and lying to the FBI.
She is accused of demanding college tuition for her children, her house to be paid off and $10 million.
A jury of eight men and eight women were selected to hear the case. Four jurors will be excused as alternates before deliberations begin. Testimony was expected to pick up at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
In opening statements Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kuhn said Sypher lied repeatedly in an attempt to extort millions from Pitino, then traded sexual favors and lied again to cover up her crime. Kuhn told jurors Sypher threatened to ruin Pitino’s reputation with false allegations of rape and forced abortion.
“I submit to you that you will not believe a word she has to say about anything,” Kuhn said.
Sypher’s attorney, James Earhart, told jurors Pitino pulled strings and used his influence to cover up his sexual assault of Sypher and others had their own motives for manipulating his client.
“What this case is about is power, money and influence,” Earhart said. “It’s about what happens when you are raped by a person with power, influence and money and you have to be destroyed.”
Sypher and Pitino both have said they had sex at a Louisville restaurant in 2003.
Sypher later told Pitino she was pregnant, planned to have an abortion but did not have medical insurance.
He told police he gave her $3,000, money his attorney Steve Pence said was for insurance, not an abortion.
Kuhn laid out his case against Sypher, accusing her of trading sexual favors with men and telling them lies in 2009 about how Pitino raped her twice, then forced her to have an abortion in order to get them to take part in the extortion plot.
Police found no evidence to back Sypher’s claim of rape and state prosecutors dismissed it has lacking merit.
Earhart’s case revolves around allegations that Pitino used his influence and money to keep Sypher quiet, while others involved in the case were manipulating Sypher out of greed or an obsession with her.
Pitino has coached at Louisville since 2001, a job he took after leaving the NBA’s Boston Celtics, where Sypher’s estranged husband, Tim Sypher, served as special assistant to Pitino. Tim and Karen Sypher are in the midst of a divorce. They have a young daughter together.
Pitino has coached three different schools to the Final Four — Louisville, Providence and Kentucky, where he won a national title. Along with the Celtics, Pitino also coached professionally with the New York Knicks.