Pitino testifies in Sypher trial - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pitino testifies in Sypher trial


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Louisville, Ky. (WDRB-TV Fox 41) -- U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino on Wednesday testified in Karen Sypher's extortion trial in Federal Court.

Pitino testified Wednesday that he met Karen Sypher on July 31, 2003 at an Italian restaurant after a golf outing.  Pitino said he and Sypher began talking after the restaurant closed.  He testified Wednesday, "Some unfortunate things happened and she poked at my pants."

Prosecutor Marisa Ford asked, "Did you have sex with the defendant that night?"  Pitino replied, "Yes, very briefly."

Sypher faces charges of lying to the FBI and retaliating against Pitino by going to police with rape allegations.  She is charged with trying to extort cars, money, and gifts from Pitino in exchange for her silence.  Sypher has pleaded not guilty.

State prosecutors say they consider Sypher's allegations against Pitino unfounded and decided not to charge the coach.

On Tuesday, Lester Goetzinger testified that Sypher told him what to say in phone messages left on Pitino's cell phone in February and March of last year.  Pitino, in testifying Wednesday of allegations in those messages, said, "He mentioned the word rape and I got very sick to my stomach."

Pitino went on to say, "I not only felt threatened, but I was frightened and I knew what was about to happen....I knew someone was about to blackmail me."

And when Pitino was told about Sypher's pregnancy and the possibility of an abortion, "I never thought from day one that was my child."

While being questioned by the prosecution, Pitino, referring to the sexual encounter with Sypher, said, "Ignorance on my part led up to it....I'm a married man, and I should never have put myself in that situation.  He continued, "I regret embarrassing and humiliating my family and my university.  It was a mistake on my part to have a sexual encounter with Ms. Sypher."

A look into the courtroom during Pitino's testimony revealed that it was standing room only.  U of L staffers, journalists, and the general public have packed the room.  Anyone who left, even for a bathroom break, was told they would probably lose their seat.

As Pitino testifies, Karen Sypher sits across the room, listening quietly.

Earlier Wednesday, Tim Coury, who owns Porcini, the Italian restaurant where Pitino met Sypher, testified that they were talking when he left the night of July 31, 2003.

Coury said Sypher had been there twice that evening and was having a drink with Pitino.  He also said he told them and a Pitino aide to leave through a door that locked itself, then closed the restaurant and went home. 

Back in August of 2009, Rick Pitino blasted the news media, lashing out at the media for reporting what he called "lies" about his sexual encounter with Karen Sypher and her extortion case.

In his seven-minute tirade against reporters, Pitino took no questions but called for coverage of the scandal to stop, saying: "Enough is enough."

He specifically pointed out Fox 41 News , referring to this news organization's coverage that began in April 2009, a month after Sypher first approached the station with allegations against the coach.

"This is blackmail. I was told seven months ago that if I didn't fight it, if I fought it, my life would be pure hell. And went home 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 who went to Fox 41 and gave all these allegations out. I didn't bring upon this fight," said Pitino at the time.

After publicly apologizing for his "indiscretion," Pitino tore into reporters after Metro Police released a taped interview with Sypher.  "Enough is enough. I'm saying something. It's a lie. It's a 100 percent lie. You've known it's a lie," said Pitino.  Pitino did not specify what he called "lies" in anyone's reporting. 

During his 2009 news conference, Pitino encouraged U of L fans to ignore continuing coverage of this scandal.  "Just change the channel. And if the newspaper is going to write, then read something else. Wait for the trial, the truth will come out," said Pitino.  

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