LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A longtime aide to Rick Pitino told
jurors Friday that the Louisville men's basketball coach asked him
to take a woman out of town for medical services after she said the
coach got her pregnant during a one-night tryst at a restaurant.
The aide, Tim Sypher, testified that Pitino did not mention
taking Karen Cunagin Sypher to get an abortion. Tim Sypher, 49,
said he called clinics in Indiana and Ohio before taking Karen
Sypher to Cincinnati, where she terminated the pregnancy on Aug.
Tim Sypher testified that he paid for the procedure from $3,000
Pitino gave for medical insurance.
Karen Cunagin Sypher, 50, has pleaded not guilty to extortion,
lying to the FBI and retaliating against a witness. Prosecutors say
she demanded money, cars and a house from Pitino to keep secret
their tryst in August 2003 at Porcini, an Italian restaurant in
Louisville. She also has claimed Pitino raped her that night, but
he has not been charged.
Tim and Karen Sypher, now divorced, married less than a year
after the abortion. Karen Sypher pocketed the rest of the $3,000.
Tim Sypher told jurors on Thursday that he drove her to the
appointment and the trip started a romance, he said.
"We hugged," he said. "I walked out the door and she said,
'Is that it?"'
Tim Sypher and other witnesses said he and his ex-wife went to
Louisville functions with Pitino, including a holiday party at the
restaurant where the coach and the ex-model had sex.
"She was very friendly with everyone," Tim Sypher said. "No
By 2007, Tim Sypher said, finances were tight and the marriage
was falling apart. Attorney Dana Kolter of Louisville sent Tim
Sypher a letter on behalf of Karen Sypher asking for a separation.
That's the first time Karen mentioned the rape allegation, he said.
"All of the sudden she started using the 'rape' word. It just
came out of the blue," Tim Sypher said.
Over the next two years, Karen Sypher was "wishy washy" about
the marriage - at times hugging and kissing her husband, at other
times exploding when Pitino called for something work related, Tim
Sypher said. All the while, the rape allegation would pop up
periodically, Tim Sypher said.
When Pitino received threatening phone calls in February 2009,
Tim Sypher said the coach sent him a text message asking him to
bring Karen Sypher to the basketball practice facility immediately.
Tim Sypher arranged three meetings between the coach and Karen
Sypher over the next two days. During those, Pitino and Tim Sypher
testified, Karen Sypher said she didn't know who made the calls and
started demanding money and cars.
On March 6, Karen Sypher had a letter delivered to Tim Sypher,
with instructions to forward it to Pitino. Tim Sypher said he gave
the coach the letter the night before a game against West Virginia.
"I really didn't know what was in there. I don't know," Tim
Sypher said. "She's nuts."
The letter, shown to jurors, included a list of seven items
Karen Sypher demanded, with the promise that "If all is accepted,
I will protect Rick Pitino's name for life."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)