Pitino testifies at Sypher extortion trial

July 28, 2010 at 6:01 PM
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LOUISVILLE, Ky., July 28 (UPI) -- University of Louisville basketball Coach Rick Pitino testified Wednesday that he's sure a woman on trial for extortion was trying to blackmail him.

Pitino, taking the stand in a Louisville, Ky., federal courtroom in the trial of Karen Sypher, told jurors there was no doubt in his mind that Sypher was attempting to extort money from him after he received two anonymous voice mail messages suggesting he had raped her, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reported.

"There was one motive from the day this all started and that was to blackmail me," Pitino said.

The coach has admitted having a consensual sexual encounter with Sypher at a restaurant. Prosecutors have accused Sypher of falsely claiming Pitino had raped her and of having a male friend demand that Pitino pay her thousands of dollars or she would publicly accuse him.

Pitino testified he "got sick to my stomach" when he heard the threatening voice mails, which a friend of Sypher's has testified he made after the defendant had "begged and pleaded" with him to do so.

Pitino also testified he was skeptical about Sypher's claim that she had become pregnant by him but nonetheless agreed to give her $3,000, he Courier-Journal reported.

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