Eight-time NBA All-Star seeks dismissal of Georgia civil suit.
Howard faces allegations of sexual assault, battery, and false imprisonment.
Former NBA star Dwight Howard vehemently denies serious allegations of sexual assault, battery, and false imprisonment brought against him in July. Howard is taking legal action, requesting the court to dismiss the civil lawsuit in Georgia.
According to court documents, Howard maintains that the encounter in July 2021, which took place at his residence in Suwanee, a suburb of Atlanta, involved "consensual sexual activity." He firmly refutes causing any harm to the plaintiff, as well as allegations of "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and false imprisonment, as stated in the court filing.
At 37 years old, Howard, who last played for the Taoyuan Leopards in Taiwan, is responding to a complaint filed in July, which alleges that he initiated contact with the plaintiff through Instagram direct messages. This online correspondence ultimately led to an in-person meeting at Howard's home, where the alleged sexual assault reportedly occurred.
Olga Izmaylova, the plaintiff's attorney, shared with ESPN that her client vehemently denies consenting to the sexual encounter. She commented, "We fully expected Mr. Howard to address the issue of consent in [Monday's filing]."
In response, Howard's legal representatives have accused the plaintiff of attempting to extort the basketball star in exchange for his silence. Justin Bailey, one of Howard's attorneys, expressed, "What was originally a private consensual encounter has been exploited for financial gain. Mr. Howard eagerly anticipates shedding light on the truth within the judicial system."
Bailey continued, "The allegations against Mr. Howard are vigorously disputed. Mr. Howard is committed to presenting the truth. Despite being an easy target due to the nature of the case and his celebrity status, he has chosen to place his trust in the justice system. All forthcoming court filings will stand as a testament to his position."
The original complaint includes screenshots of purported Instagram exchanges between the plaintiff and Howard from 2021. According to a July 2022 incident report from the Gwinnett County Police Department, which ESPN acquired, the plaintiff reported the incident a year later, but no charges were filed. Bailey added, "This report was filed after Mr. Harper was blocked on social media and following the initial demand for payment."
Howard enjoyed a successful NBA career spanning nearly two decades, earning eight All-Star selections, eight All-NBA Team honors, five All-Defensive Team nods, and three Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also secured a gold medal with Team USA at the 2008 Olympics.
The controversy surrounding Dwight Howard has ignited a social media firestorm, with the former NBA star making a statement through a video in which he firmly asserted that his personal matters in the bedroom are strictly his own business, without directly addressing the allegations. The video garnered significant attention and sparked intense debate across various online platforms. While Howard's stance on privacy and discretion in personal matters is clear, it has not deterred a wave of constant trolling and commentary from both supporters and critics. This online chatter has added an extra layer of intensity to an already high-profile case, ensuring that the entire situation remains under intense scrutiny within the digital realm.