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Woman’s Attempt to Deflect Extortion Charges with Rape Claim Against Rick Pitino Fails

August 13th, 2009 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has apologized to his family and the university for having extra-marital sex with Karen Sypher in a restaurant six years ago.  He also later paid her $3,000 to obtain either an abortion or health insurance, just which is uncertain.  Read details here (Louisville Courier-Journal, 8/12/09).

Pitino is 56 years old, married and the father of five children.  Although he has clauses in his contract with the university that allow it to fire him for engaging in immoral conduct, it looks like Pitino, one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, will keep his job.

Meanwhile, Sypher has been charged with trying to extort $10 million from Pitino as a result of the tryst, and lying to the FBI.  Exactly what her extortion consisted of is unclear, but she apparently demanded payment in exchange for her silence. 

Once charged, Sypher claimed Pitino raped her.  That claim came almost six years after the couple’s after-hours encounter in Porcini, an upscale Louisville restaurant.  Police have declined to pursue rape charges against Pitino saying her claims “lacked credibility and any supporting evidence.”

The smart money has Sypher walking away with little punishment.  Rick Pitino is a prominent figure on the national sports stage.  He’s been married for 33 years.  Pretrial proceedings would see Sypher testifying at length about their sexual encounter.  In other words, she’d be telling her story, which is “Rick Pitino raped me.”  The longer that story hangs around the news, the uglier Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville look.  Blue chip recruits to the university’s basketball program, who signed largely so they could play for Pitino, may start to consider other schools.

You get the picture.  What prosecutor wants to be the guy who humiliated one of the most popular guys in Louisville and damaged the school’s extremely successful basketball program?  Everybody in Louisville wants this story to go away, and that means it will. 

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