Former NBA center Dwight Howard denies sexual assaulting a man at his Georgia residence in 2021, instead claiming that the two had a consensual encounter.
‘What was a private consensual encounter was made public for profit and Mr. Howard looks forward to bringing the truth to light in a court of law,’ Howard’s attorney, Justin Bailey, told ESPN.
Howard, who now plays in Taiwan, is being sued in his home state of Georgia by a man named Stephen Harper, who claims that he was sexually assaulted by the former NBA All-Star in July of 2021. The two allegedly began talking over Instagram direct messenger two months earlier, which led them to meet in person, according to a lawsuit filed by Harper’s attorney and provided to Mail Sport.
In his complaint, Harper contends that he was made to participate in a threesome against his will while being ‘pinned down and forced to remain in place’ by the 6-foot-10, 265-pound Howard.
Harper’s lawsuit also contains allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment against Howard.
Dwight Howard denies sexual assaulting a man at his Georgia residence in 2021
In one purported exchange, Howard is seen allegedly inviting Harper to his home
Howard’s attorney claims the former NBA star is the victim of an extortion attempt.
‘The allegations against Mr. Howard are contested,’ Bailey told ESPN. ‘Mr. Howard intends to present the truth.
‘The truth is Mr. Howard blocked Mr. Harper on social media and then was confronted with two options — pay to protect his reputation or have a fabricated story made public. Despite being an easy target due to the subject matter and his status as a celebrity, Mr. Howard chose to trust in the justice system and will rely on all future court filings to speak for themselves.’
Harper shared screenshots in the lawsuit of purported Instagram exchanges with Howard as well as an Uber receipt to the NBA star’s home on the night of the alleged encounter.
He also went to police in July of 2022 to report an incident, according to ESPN. However, no charges were ever filed.
‘This report was made following Mr. Harper being blocked on social media and after the first demand for payment was rejected,’ Bailey told ESPN.
Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for filing such a civil lawsuit, but Harper’s attorney told ESPN she believes there are extenuating circumstances.
Dwight Howard of the Taoyuan Leopards warms up prior to the T1 League game in February
‘We had some independent investigation to conduct and Mr. Harper had some private factors to considered before we all felt ready to proceed with the lawsuit’ Harper’s attorney, Olga, Izmaylova told ESPN.
The 37-year-old Howard has been out of the NBA since 2022. While he won a league title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, he is best remembered for his tenure with the Orlando Magic, for whom he won three NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors.
A father of five children from five different women, Howard has been outspoken about his faith since arriving in the NBA straight out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in 2004.
Most recently, he signed to play for the Taoyuan Leopards in Taiwan, where was named Most Valuable Import at the end of the 2023 season.