(KUTV) Utah Jazz back-up center Jeff Withey is strongly denying domestic violence allegations by his ex-girlfriend, a Playboy playmate.
“These salacious and patently false allegations appear to be nothing more than a vicious and calculated attempt by an angry former girlfriend to damage Mr. Withey’s good reputation,” said Withey’s Los Angeles- based lawyer Alan Jackson.
Jackson made the statement hours after online site TMZ reported a woman named Kennedy Summers filed a police report in southern California on Tuesday, making the domestic violence claims.
2News called the Manhattan Beach Police Department, requesting a copy of that report, and a records department staffer said if an investigation has begun, the document will not be released.
TMZ cited unnamed “law enforcement sources” as saying the police filing referenced “multiple alleged incidents.” It said police were called to “an incident involving Withey and Summers last year, but no report was made at the time and nobody was arrested.”
The two may have been engaged, but reportedly broke up twice in 2016 — with the latest break-up in October.
Summers was named 2014's Playmate of the Year by Playboy.
“It is no coincidence that these fabricated claims conveniently come during the middle of the NBA playoffs, or that TMZ and the police department were notified on the same day,” Withey’s attorney said.
On Thursday at Jazz practice, a curtain separating courts was in place. Withey was not in view when members of the press were let into the gym, but later appeared from behind the partition, smiling with a teammate and having a walking discussion with coach Quin Snyder.
During a media scrum, 2News asked Snyder if the allegations are a distraction.
“At this point, we’re researching it,” Snyder said. “We’re looking into what the situation is. It would be irresponsible for me to comment beyond that, until we have more information.”
Summers agent, Zack Teperman, released a statement to TMZ.
“Given the ongoing circumstances, our client needs to protect herself and come forward about everything so this doesn’t happen to her or others in the future,” he is reported as saying.
Jennifer Oxborrow, director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, said it’s “important to understand, even though we don’t have all the details, start by believing."
“Sometimes, something that happened a year ago is now a bigger deal than in was," Oxborrow said. "Maybe she’s looking for an order of protection. We don’t know the details of that.”
Still, Oxborrow said rights of the accused must also be protected, that alleged perpetrators are innocent until proven guilty, and that “we may not ever know exactly what happened in that relationship.”
It’s unknown if Withey will suit up for game three at Vivint Smart Home Arena, which may be important, given Rudy Gobert’s injury during game one.
What is certain is the clarity of Withey’s lawyer over the domestic abuse claims.
“There is no truth to the accusations, and when the facts come to light we are confident that the falsity of the claims, and the true motivations of the person behind them, will be exposed,” Jackson said.