WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) — Former Chicago Bulls player and coach Rick Brunson is denying charges that he sexually assaulted a masseuse at Lifetime Fitness in Vernon Hills.
Brunson, 42, of Vernon Hills, pled not guilty to multiple charges during his arraignment Thursday in Lake County Circuit Court.
“We will vigorously fight this,” attorney Dennis Berkson said after the hearing. “We believe after a full airing of this case Mr. Brunson will be found innocent. We will not discuss details because it will all eventually come out in court.
Police say Brunson booked an appointment at Lifetime Fitness for April 2 under the name “Patrick Ewing,” a former star with the New York Knicks, even after the masseuse had asked Brunson to stop requesting her.
According to police reports, he took the woman by surprise when he arrived and removed his clothes.
The woman told police she initially protested at giving him a massage but agreed to begin a standard 60-minute session because he had already undressed and used one of her appointment slots.
Brunson was charged on June 25 with sexual abuse, attempted sexual assault and three counts of battery. Three counts of domestic battery were later added. He pled not guilty to all charges.
Specific details of the alleged contact have not yet been released, but police reports say investigators looked for DNA evidence on the woman’s bra and that Brunson refused to give police a DNA sample.
During the hearing Thursday, Berkson asked if the ban on out of state travel could be lifted so that Brunson can attend a job interview and go to his children’s school functions.
Assistant State’s Attorney Victor O’Block said he had no objection, and Strickland agreed; however, he said Brunson must provide the county with itineraries ahead of time and check in upon returning.
Brunon’s son Jalen plays for Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and is ranked as the nation’s top high school point guard, according to ESPN. Jalen also was a significant contributor on Team USA, which recently won the gold medal in the FIBA Americas-sanctioned under-18 basketball championships.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brunson was a candidate to be the Temple Owls’ next assistant coach. He starred at Temple in the 1990s. Representatives from Temple were not available for comment Thursday.
Brunson had 19 massages at the Lifetime Fitness facility beginning in December 2011, seven of which were scheduled with the masseuse who filed charges, police reports show. Brunson’s last appointment before the alleged April 2 incident was on Aug. 21, 2013, when the masseuse told him to stop requesting her.
After several days during which police said she was behaving unusually, the woman finally told her supervisors and management called Brunson on April 9 to revoke his membership.
Police say Brunson called the woman several times that same day.
A caller from a restricted number dialed the woman’s cellphone at 5:49 p.m. on April 9, and again at 7:31 p.m., according to police reports. A caller from a phone number the woman knew to be Brunson’s dialed her at 11:31 p.m.
The woman told police that she has Brunson’s phone number because she had been to his house to massage his son. The report did not specify his son’s name, but a coaching bio on NBA.com, from Brunson’s 2012 hire as an assistant coach with the Bulls, indicates that Brunson has only one son, Jalen.
The police reports note that throughout the month-long investigation, the woman continued to feel pain but said she didn’t see a doctor because she didn’t have medical insurance.
A case management hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9 with trial set for Oct. 27.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)