Dwight Howard, sexual assault, lawsuit

Georgia Judge Denies Dwight Howard’s Motion to Dismiss Sexual Assault Lawsuit

A Georgia judge has ruled against former NBA star Dwight Howard's attempt to immediately dismiss a sexual assault lawsuit.

A Georgia judge has ruled against former NBA star Dwight Howard’s attempt to immediately dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault and battery, according to ESPN. The decision, made this week in Gwinnett County, comes as part of an ongoing legal battle initiated by Stephen Harper, who alleges Howard sexually assaulted him during a July 2021 encounter at Howard’s Georgia residence.

Harper’s attorney, Olga Izmaylova, expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision, stating, “My comment, at this time, is that we are glad the court denied Mr. Howard’s motion and look forward to proving our client’s case.” The lawsuit also includes allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

The judge not only rejected Howard’s motion but also ruled to seal an exhibit filed in December 2023 containing what Howard’s lawyers claimed were embarrassing and sexually explicit text messages.

One of Howard’s attorneys, Justin Bailey, responded to the ruling, expressing confidence in the justice system, saying, “Justice will prevail and we fully trust in our justice system and the process. This order is part of the process. We will engage in discovery and will further prove our case, and when the time is right, we will let our future pleadings speak for themselves.”

The lawsuit, filed in July 2023, is in the discovery phase, with no trial date scheduled. Howard’s legal team has consistently maintained that the encounter involving a third person was consensual. In October 2023, they denied the allegations and sought a dismissal. In December 2023, Howard’s lawyers escalated their efforts, requesting a summary judgment to dismiss the charges without a trial.

Harper’s initial complaint included screenshots of alleged Instagram exchanges between him and Howard in 2021, along with an Uber receipt detailing Harper’s trip to Howard’s residence on the night of the incident. Harper went to the police a year later, but no charges were filed.

Howard’s attorneys characterized the case as a “classic case of unrequited love” in a December 2023 filing. They claimed that after one consensual evening, Howard was no longer interested in Harper’s company.

Harper’s legal team countered in a January 2024 response, rejecting the notion of unrequited love and urging the judge to deny Howard’s request for a summary judgment. They argued that the case was about holding Howard accountable for his actions, not personal motives.

As the legal proceedings continue, Howard, an eight-time All-Star and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, waits for a resolution on the allegations that have cast a shadow over his post-NBA career.

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