Accuser doesn’t testify in Pitino trial (AP)

Aug 4th, 2010 | By sportsnews | Category: Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—A woman charged with demanding millions from Louisville
basketball coach Rick Pitino to keep quiet about their sexual tryst did not
testify in her own defense, and her attorneys rested their case Wednesday
without calling any witnesses.

Karen Cunagin Sypher’s attorney did not give a reason for the move. Sypher
has pleaded not guilty.

Assistant U.S. attorney Marisa Ford told jurors in closing arguments that
Sypher was “looking for a golden parachute, something for nothing” when she
demanded $10 million, college tuition for her children and her house paid off in
exchange for her silence about having sex with the coach at an Italian
restaurant in July 2003.

“This was nothing more than a pure shakedown of Richard Pitino,” Ford
said.

Sypher’s attorney, James Earhart, said his client’s ex-husband and longtime
Pitino aide Tim Sypher tried to extort the coach. Tim Sypher was at the center
of every criminal act and used his then-wife to get back at the coach he worked
for since 1996, Earhart said.

“Rick Pitino and Karen Sypher are victims of Tim Sypher’s scheme,” Earhart
said.

The jury may get the case later Wednesday.

Although she didn’t testify, jurors have heard from Sypher in the form of
several hours of videotaped interviews with Louisville television stations and
the police.

In interviews with WDRB-TV in Louisville and police, Sypher claimed Pitino
raped her after the restaurant Porcini emptied July 31, 2003.

“It didn’t last long. It seemed like hours for me,” said Sypher, appearing
to cry, although no tears were visible on the video. “All he said was shut up,
shut up and be quiet.”

Ford said the interview with the television station in April 2009 and the
one with police a few months later were riddled with inaccuracies. Sypher also
lied in several FBI interviews, Ford said.

Multiple witnesses have contradicted Sypher’s stories—differing with her
account of what she wore, what time of day the sex took place and even the
weather outside the restaurant.

“When you’re not telling the truth about something, you can’t keep your
facts straight,” Ford said.

Once the FBI considered her an extortion suspect, Sypher twice called media
outlets to accuse Pitino of rape before going to police, Ford said. The rape
claim was made in retaliation for Pitino reporting the extortion attempt to the
FBI, Ford said.

“She’s interested in damaging Rick Pitino’s reputation,” Ford said.
“She’s intent at this point in payback.”

Earhart said Sypher was the victim of a botched police investigation and the
victim of a “scheme” to take her down.

The star of the prosecution’s case was Pitino, who testified before a
standing-room only crowd for more than five hours over two days, telling jurors
he had an “unfortunate” sexual encounter with Sypher and that he felt “sick
to my stomach” when the extortion calls started Feb. 26, 2009. Pitino received
two calls that day and a third a couple of days later.

“I could never rape a woman or be physically harmful to any woman at any
time,” Pitino said.

Earhart told jurors Pitino wasn’t truthful about what happened in the
restaurant and said the coach didn’t deny raping Sypher at a meeting with her on
the day the extortion charges started. Earhart said Pitino gave “one of the
most moronic responses to a question” when the coach said he didn’t deny raping
Sypher at the meeting because she knew it wasn’t true.

On the night of the sexual tryst, two restaurant patrons told jurors Sypher
first approached Pitino, forcing her way into his circle of friends and that the
two were hitting it off as the night went on. Pitino testified that the sexual
encounter lasted 15 seconds.

About four weeks later, Sypher approached Pitino, saying she was pregnant
and he was the father, which the coach denied.

Sypher said she had no health insurance, Pitino said, so he offered $3,000.
He thought the money was for counseling and medical needs but Sypher later said
she had an abortion, Pitino said.

Tim Sypher drove her to Cincinnati to have the abortion.

The two became romantically involved and married in April 2004. They are now
divorced, but locked in a legal battle over custody of their 5-year-old
daughter.

Three men have testified to having affairs with Sypher while she was married
to Tim Sypher. Lester Goetzinger admitted to making the extortion calls in
exchange for sexual favors from Sypher. He reached a deal with prosecutors in
exchange for his testimony.

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