The Portland Trail Blazers introduced Chauncey Billups as the team's new head coach during a press conference Tuesday, and general manager Neil Olshey told reporters the organization thoroughly investigated the 1997 rape allegation made against Billups.
"With all sincerity, and you have my word ... We took the allegations very seriously, and we took them with the gravity that they deserved," he said.
"We commissioned our own independent investigation into the incident in 1997," he added. "Our investigation corroborated what Chauncey told us, that nothing non-consensual occurred. We stand by Chauncey."
In Nov. 1997, Billups was at a comedy club with then-NBA players Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer, along with other friends. An unnamed woman who later sued Billups said the Blazers head coach took her Walker's condo after the comedy club, where Billups and Mercer allegedly performed "unwanted" sexual acts on her.
She said in the lawsuit she blacked out during the alleged sexual assault and woke up the next morning at the condo. After going to the Boston Medical Center, a rape kit found bruising to her back, injuries to her cervix, rectum and throat and semen inside her.
Criminal charges were never filed, and Billups settled the civil suit. Billups claimed that he was never at Walker's condo, and that sexual acts between he and the woman took place in his car and were consensual.
Mercer also said he was not at Walker's home and had received oral sex from the woman at Billups' residence.
The Blazers have faced backlash for the hiring and so has point guard Damian Lillard, who told Jason Quick and Shams Charania of The Athletic that Billups was one of his preferred candidates to replace Terry Stotts, along with Jason Kidd.
Lillard later added that he wasn't aware of the 1997 rape allegations made against Billups:
Damian Lillard @Dame_Lillard
Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less <a href="https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd">https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd</a>
The next day, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the "enormous backlash from the Blazers' process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player—Lillard—out the door."
Through it all, Billups was named as the team's next head coach, as Lillard's future in Portland remains unclear.