After Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey told reporters to "take our word" that the team commissioned a thorough investigation of a 1997 rape allegation against new head coach Chauncey Billups, a local news report found otherwise.
On Tuesday, Oregon Public Broadcasting published its own investigation of Olshey's claim that "We did everything in our power to vet that incident." Reporters Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick wrote that OPB attempted to retrace the steps of the Trail Blazers investigation and reached out to key figures from the probe into an allegation that Billups and Ron Mercer sexually assaulted a woman in Boston Celtics teammate Antoine Walker's home in 1997.
Report: Trail Blazers didn't contact Billups accuser, others
OPB found that the investigative firm the Trail Blazers hired didn't reach out to Billups' accuser. It also didn't get statements from other key figures from the criminal investigation into the rape claim, per the report.
The team’s review did not obtain information directly from several primary sources, including the accuser.
“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” said Margaret A. Burnham, attorney for Jane Doe.
Burnam also told OPB "we stand by the allegations."
Billups denies the allegation while contending in a civil case that he engaged in consensual oral sex with his accuser. Prosecutors declined to press criminal charges after investigating the 1997 allegation. The civil case was settled in 1999. Terms of the settlement were not made public.
OPB: Team didn't contact district attorney
According to OPB, the team's investigation also failed to contact former Middlesex County district attorney Thomas Reilly, who oversaw the criminal investigation into the allegation. It also didn't contact the county's current district attorney, per the report.
Reilly, whose office declined to charge Billups, told OPB that he believed Billups' account that any sexual encounter he had with his accuser was consensual, telling the publication that "a very thorough investigation backed him up … no doubt about it."
When asked to provide details of the investigation he cited, Reilly declined.
“You and your colleague can continue to work this story until the cows come home but you will not be able to change the bottom line ... .” Reilly told OPB in a email. “Mr. Billups is telling the truth about the incident you refer to. You called me and I’ve tried to help you but enough is enough ... case closed.”
Reilly served as Massachusetts attorney general from 1999 to 2007 after working for Middlesex County.
Trail Blazers, Olshey stonewalled questions about probe
Olshey made his claim about the thoroughness of the Trail Blazers investigation when the team introduced Billups as head coach on June 29. When asked to expound on his claim, Olshey refused, describing information about the investigation as "proprietary." He also declined to identify who conducted the investigation.
"You're just going to have to take our word that we hired an experienced firm that led us to the results we already discussed," Olshey said.
When a reporter asked Billups to elaborate on previous statements he'd made on the allegation, Trail Blazers senior vice president for communications Ashley Clinkscale stonewalled the line of questioning as Olshey sat next to Billups.
"We’ve addressed this,” Clinkscale said. “It’s been asked and answered, so happy to move on to the next question here.”
Billups joins the Trail Blazers as a first-time NBA head coach. He spent last season as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, his first coaching experience in the NBA. A 17-year NBA veteran as a player, Billups played for the Clippers in the 2011-12 season when Olshey was an executive with the team prior to taking the Trail Blazers job.
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