Saturday evening, the New York Post published a story about a woman who claimed to have been raped by Kristaps Porzingis the night of February 7, 2018. Earlier that evening, Porzingis tore his ACL in what would be the last game he played with the New York Knicks.
We published an earlier story outlining the Post’s story and its key points, and some immediate aftermath, but there has been much more reported in the past couple of days, with some key documents obtained by various media outlets and some additional details coming out.
The Post story and immediate reactions
The New York Post story details a report by a woman one high-ranking NYPD source referred to as “believable,” — a neighbor in Porzingis’ luxury penthouse building, who was invited over by Porzingis the night of February 7th, 2018. That was when the alleged rape occurred. According to the Post’s police source, “the woman told cops she waited more than a year to talk to police because the player allegedly promised to give her money to keep her quiet. She told cops he promised to give her $68,000 to pay for her brother’s college tuition — but then reneged.”
The case has been referred to the NYPD special victims division.
Porzingis’ attorney, Roland G. Riopelle, responded to the Post story quickly (which is now included in an updated version of the Post’s story), “unequivocally” denying the allegations. He also referenced a “formal referral to federal law enforcement on December 20th, 2018 based on the accuser’s extortionate demands.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in an emailed statement to the New York Post (also included in the story) said that the team is aware and “has been instructed by federal authorities not to comment.”
After the Post story and the immediate response, questions remained about not just the rape allegation and investigation, but also a federal extortion investigation which appears to predate the rape allegation. On Sunday and Monday, the story continued to unfold.
ESPN’s reporting based on obtained emails and text messages
Adrian Wojnarowski outlined some additional details based on emails and text messages obtained by ESPN. According to Wojnarowski, eight months after the alleged rape, the woman “contacted the New York Knicks’ legal department to seek to ‘mediate in private’ a payment of $68,000.”
Wojnarowski also explains that the emails and text messages obtained by ESPN “portray a woman who wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with Porzingis in the aftermath of the alleged assault in February 2018, but who also wanted him to honor what she says was his commitment to contribute $68,000 to a college fund for her brother.”
Finally, ESPN also obtained a handwritten letter claiming to be a contract for the $68,000 payment. In the letter, “Porzingis’ name is misspelled and it is unclear whether the signature belongs to him.” Porzingis’ attorney claims this letter is a forgery.
I would encourage you to read the full story, as it contains many additional details, including the exact content of many of these emails and text messages.
The NYPD rape investigation and federal extortion claim
Subsequent to the ESPN reporting, Porzingis’ attorney confirmed that he had been contacted by the New York County District Attorney. In a statement made to ESPN, Riopelle says “we are cooperating fully” and notes that they provided a copy of the report his team compiled that was previously provided to federal authorities in support of the extortion claim.
The Athletic obtained a copy of Riopelle’s report, which “does not shed light on what happened Feb. 7 at Porzingis’ apartment.” Instead, it “collates the woman’s legal history, available public records, and social media identities.”
The Athletic’s story expands a bit on the report, saying it was provided to four parties in addition to the FBI: the Knicks, the NBA Players’ Association, the NBA, and, later, the Mavericks. League sources have confirmed the Mavericks did receive Riopelle’s report. The full story, reported in much more detail by Mike Vorkunov and Tim Cato, can be read here.
There have been some details of what exactly happened the night of February 7th published elsewhere, and which have been widely shared at this point. We are choosing not to link to them at this time as we don’t feel there is enough information available at this time to assess their credibility.
The NBPA is standing by Porzingis at this time. According to a statement from NBPA executive director Michele Roberts: “We have been aware of these allegations for some time, have evaluated the accuser’s claims and, based on what is presently before us, stand with Kristaps.”
What did the Mavericks know?
It remains a bit unclear what exactly the Mavericks may or may not have known about either the extortion or the rape allegations before they traded for Porzingis on January 31, 2019.
Early reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that the Mavericks knew about the rape allegations before the trade was finalized. However, subsequent reports clarified that the Mavericks were only informed about the extortion allegations.
As mentioned above, the Mavericks did receive a copy of Riopelle’s report, showing that they were aware of the extortion demands. Mark Cuban has refused to comment a number of times, and Rick Carlisle said he has no knowledge of what the team knew leading up to the trade.
Porzingis did not travel with the Mavericks for its recent game in Oklahoma City, which Rick Carlisle says was a pre-planned absence. Both Cuban and Carlisle have said they would grant Porzingis personal time away from the bench if needed.
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