Karen Sypher pleads not guilty to new charges - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Karen Sypher pleads not guilty to new charges

By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News

The attorney for the woman charged with trying to extort money from U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino says the case could go to trial in the next six months.

Jim Earhart says his client, Karen Cunagin Sypher, will also likely testify. 

Sypher made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court Tuesday morning to answer to new criminal charges of retaliating against Pitino and lying to the FBI.  Earhart entered a not guilty plea to all six charges on Sypher's behalf.

Sypher has remained free on a judge's order barring that she not make any "injurious statements" about Pitino.

Sypher said nothing as she left the courthouse. 

She's charged with trying to extort money from Pitino and later presenting him a list of demands that asked for tuition, cars, and later $10 million. 

Authorities say the alleged extortion attempt grew out of a sexual encounter she and Pitino had at Porcini restaurant in 2003.

Last month, new charges claimed Sypher retaliated against the coach when she went to Metro Police in July claiming Pitino raped her.

"I said 'What are you doing, what are you doing?" Sypher told investigators during a videotaped interview with LMPD.

Prosecutors later found her claims to be void of credibility.  At the time she said, "It just all coincides together, it just does not surprise me at all."

Sypher was also recently charged with lying to the FBI about an intimate relationship she had with another person in the investigation.  Earhart said Tuesday he intends to file a motion asking prosecutors to divulge that person's identity.

"We are going to find exactly who. Right now, I can only guess," he said.

Authorities say another man sexually linked to Sypher, Lester Goetzinger, made threatening phone calls to Pitino in February.  In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors dropped charges against him.

In August, Pitino apologized for his indiscretion but later lashed out at reporters, saying, "This is blackmail.  I was told seven months ago that if I fought it my life would be pure hell.  So I went to comfort my wife because it has been pure hell and don't tell me it's been pure hell for anyone else because I'm not the one that went to Fox 41 and gave all these allegations."

Pitino declined comment during Tuesday's press conference. Earlier this year, he told authorities his encounter with Sypher was consensual and admitted to giving Sypher $3000 for health insurance – money Sypher claims to have used for an abortion.

No trial date has been set.  If convicted, Sypher faces up to 26 years in prison.

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