Judge denies Dwight Howard’s motion to dismiss lawsuit alleging sexual assault, battery



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A Georgia judge on Wednesday denied a motion by Dwight Howard’s lawyers to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges sexual assault and battery, according to a Gwinnett County filing obtained by The Athletic.

Chief Judge Carla E. Brown also sealed an exhibit filed in December 2023 that Howard’s lawyers argued contained “embarrassing, sexually explicit text messages,” according to the filing.

“This Court sees no public benefit to leaving those texts on display, such that the harm to Defendant’s (Howard) privacy clearly outweighs the public interest,” Brown wrote in Wednesday’s order.

The lawsuit, filed in July 2023 by Stephen Harper, alleged Howard sexually assaulted Harper at Howard’s Georgia home on July 19, 2021. Harper also accused Howard of “intentional infliction of emotional distress” and false imprisonment.

In an October filing, Howard denied the allegations. Howard admitted to engaging in “consensual sexual activity” with Harper and that he expressed an interest in meeting up with Harper over that summer in Atlanta after they began corresponding over text and Instagram messages beginning in May 2021 — alleged screenshots of which are included in the complaint.

Howard’s attorneys filed another motion for summary judgment in his favor on Thursday. No trial has been scheduled in the case.

In his complaint, Harper alleged that when the two met at Howard’s house, and after engaging in consensual kissing, a friend of Howard’s arrived. Harper alleged that Howard said the friend was a man he “has threesomes with sometimes,” which Howard denied in his response. Harper alleged he told Howard he did not come to the house to engage in a threesome and offered to leave, but Howard “assured (Harper) he would not have to participate in a threesome and convinced (him) to stay,” all of which Howard denies.

Harper alleged Howard and the other man began to engage in sexual acts, and despite Harper saying he did not consent and asking him to “stop,” Howard became verbally aggressive toward Harper. Harper said he “became terrified” because he was “confined” within Howard’s bedroom and both Howard and the friend were “much larger” than Harper. Harper alleges he believed he would “suffer imminent bodily harm” if he resisted Howard’s advances.

In Thursday’s filing, Howard’s attorneys wrote the three individuals “engaged in consensual sexual activity together,” and said Harper filed the lawsuit “as revenge and in an attempt to tarnish Mr. Howard’s reputation, ‘get [his] attention’, and fulfill the threat of telling the whole world about the private, consensual night.”

Harper reported the incident to police in July 2022, Gwinnett County Police Department records show, identifying Howard as his “ex-boyfriend.” No charges were filed. Police said they made repeated attempts to formally interview Harper between the day he reported the incident and when they sent a letter in August to notify him the case would be suspended if he did not cooperate with the investigation, but never heard back.

Howard, 38, last played in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021-22.

(Photo: Cole Burston / Getty Images)





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