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Old 08-11-09, 10:09 PM
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Pitino admits to sex, paying for abortion

Louisville coach Rick Pitino told police that he had consensual sex with and paid for an abortion for the woman who has been charged with trying to extort him, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Tuesday.

Karen Cunagin Sypher was federally charged in April with demanding cars, tuition for her children and finally $10 million. Police interviewed Pitino, who is married, regarding the incident last month, and according to the newspaper, he said that he gave the woman $3,000 to have an abortion.

Police records obtained by the Courier-Journal show that Pitino said he had sex with the then Karen Cunagin at a Louisville restaurant where he had been drinking on Aug. 1, 2003. He denied Cunagin Sypher's allegations that he raped her at the restaurant and then again later at a different location.

Pitino told police that Cunagin Sypher called him about two weeks after the initial encounter and said that she was pregnant. They arranged to meet at the condominium of Louisville strength coach Tim Sypher, whom she did not know at that time but would later marry.

According to the police report, Pitino said Cunagin Sypher had decided to get an abortion but claimed to not have health insurance. Pitino then gave her the $3,000. He told police that the two did not have sex at the condo or at any other location.

According to the report, Cunagin Sypher married Tim Sypher about six months later and, though she saw Pitino at team events, he claims there was never "any strange behavior." Cunagin Sypher and Tim Sypher are now estranged.

Cunagin Sypher reported the alleged rapes on July 9, about two months after she was indicted for extortion and lying to the FBI.

Pitino's lawyer, Steve Pence, said the story is about Cunagin Sypher and not his client.

"Karen Sypher is indicted for extortion," Pence said. "The commonwealth's attorney has said she is void of any credibility on these 6-year-old allegations she has made."

University sports information director Kenny Klein said Pitino was in his office on Tuesday, but directed all inquires to Pence.

Sgt. Andy Abbott, the commander of the police department's sex offense unit, asked Cunagin Sypher during one interview why she waited until after she was indicted on the extortion charge to report her allegations.

She gave varying answers, according to transcripts, saying she wanted to forget about it, then that Pitino threatened her and finally that "they kept throwing crumbs to keep me happy." She didn't say what they were, the newspaper reported.

Abbott asked Cunagin Sypher in the interview why she was coming forward now, only after she was charged.

"Because ... where we are, it seems like retaliation," Abbott said.

"I know it does," Cunagin Sypher responded.

In addition, Cunagin Sypher did not disclose that there was a witness to the event at the restaurant, Vinnie Tatum, an executive assistant to Pitino. According to Abbott's report, Tatum said he didn't see what happened but heard "only the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter."

Louisville commonwealth's attorney David Stengel declined to prosecute the case in July.

The newspaper obtained the records under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

Louisville University president James Ramsey said his thoughts were with Pitino and his family.

"Several months ago Coach Pitino informed me about the alleged extortion attempt. I've now been informed that there may be other details which, if true, I find surprising," he said in a statement.

Neither Cunagin Sypher nor her attorney, James Earhart, immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Report on extortion case: Rick Pitino admits to sex - ESPN
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