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Report: Blazers Didn't Talk to Accuser, 'Several Primary Sources' in Billups Probe

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 14, 2021

AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer

The Portland Trail Blazers hired Chauncey Billups as their head coach despite a rape allegation made against the former NBA star in 1997 when he was a member of the Boston Celtics.

Portland said it did its due diligence in the case prior to the team hiring him during his introductory press conference.

"With all sincerity, and you have my word ... we took the allegations very seriously, and we took them with the gravity that they deserved," Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said, per Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report.

"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."

However, Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick of Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Tuesday that the Blazers did not attempt to reach out to several primary sources, including Billups' accuser.

“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” Margaret A. Burnham, the attorney for Billups' accuser (referred to as Jane Doe), told OPB.

Wilson and Schick also reported that the team did not contact the current attorney general of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where the alleged assault took place, nor reach out to former district attorney Thomas Reilly, who declined to press criminal charges at the time.

“Mr. Billups has consistently said that any acts between him and the woman involved were consensual,” Reilly wrote in an email to OPB.

“I believe he is telling the truth because the evidence obtained during the course of a very thorough investigation backed him up ... no doubt about it.”

Wilson and Schick summarized the allegation made against Billups:

"Doe's complaint alleges on Nov. 9, 1997, three men, including Billups, raped her at the house of Billups’ Boston Celtics teammate Antoine Walker. In her lawsuit, Doe states a medical examination done the next day revealed 'injuries to [Doe's] throat, cervix and rectum.' In his answer to Doe's complaint filed with the court nearly one year later, Billups said he engaged in consensual oral sex with Doe, and that he drove Doe not to Walker’s house but to teammate Ron Mercer's."

Wilson and Schick wrote that the Blazers' investigation appeared to have "taken place in a matter of days." They said that the police department in Waltham, Massachusetts received one inquiry into the case from a person named Dave Hallman of Alder Group, an Oregon-based security firm.

Wilson and Schick contacted Capt. Steven R. Champeon of the Waltham Police Department, who said that no information about the case was released to anyone.

As the report noted, "Massachusetts law prohibits police from releasing any information about reports of sexual assault or domestic violence, meaning any tapes or police reports would have been difficult for an independent investigator to procure."

The Waltham Police Department said it received Hallman’s request for information about Billups on June 24. One day later, Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported that Billups was the Blazers' choice. 

Ashley Clinkscale, the Blazers' senior vice president for communications, community and diversity, wrote the following in response to an email from OPB about the Blazers' investigation into the allegations:

“While we recognize additional questions and concerns have been expressed, we believe Chauncey is a person of incredible character and we are confident in our decision to hire him and believe he is the right person to lead our team. We took the allegations very seriously by commissioning a thorough and independent investigation into the incident in 1997, in addition to our normal course of vetting employees, players, and leadership.”

Billups, 44, played 17 NBA seasons from 1997-2014 with eight different teams. He's worked as an NBA analyst for ESPN as most recently as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers.

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