Pitino’s Preparation Evidently Pays Off — The Cross-ExaminationPosted by jstevrtc on July 30th, 2010
Thursday was the fourth day of the Karen Sypher extortion trial in Louisville, and it brought the cross-examination of Rick Pitino. We predicted yesterday that there would be some heated exchanges between Sypher’s defense attorney and the Louisville coach (not exactly going out on a limb, there), and that since he’s a master of preparation when it comes to coaching basketball, he’d be confident and ready to roll — or at least appear so — when it came time to talk about some harrowing and even downright embarrassing stuff, especially with an extra night to prep. Our information below comes from the summaries written by Louisville’s Courier-Journal and the point-to-point breakdown and analysis at Kentucky sports blog KentuckySportsRadio.com (KSR).
Pitino started the day on the stand and was done by noon, totaling six hours on the stand between today and yesterday. According to KSR, Pitino was an effective witness for the government/prosecution, though things did get a little testy between Pitino and Sypher’s defense attorney — who started his cross-examination by reading a quote from one of Pitino’s books (that’s cold!) — at a couple of junctures when the details of the fateful night at the Italian restaurant were discussed. It does not, however, sound like there was any particular incident that resulted in huge verbal volleys or anger above what one would expect. Pitino knows that he can’t allow it to appear as if the defense attorney is getting to him, and we’d expect that his skills at readying himself for opponents served him well. Still, a few items from today’s witnesses caught our attention.
First, there’s something we haven’t heard mentioned in any discussion, and that’s the fact that Pitino’s motivational speaking days are gone, and according to KSR he was pullin’ down anywhere between a grand to $40,000 per speech. You could even assume that figure would have climbed if Pitino claimed a national title or a couple more Final Fours, so there’s no telling how much income Pitino cost himself because of a few drinks at a bar and a grave mistake involving a woman who, in our eyes (as we rely on the reports of others), is coming off like she had an agenda all along. Mind you, all we’ve heard so far is the prosecution’s case.
There’s an aspect of this we haven’t heard anything about, and we wonder if the government has plans on pursuing it, or if it’s something that’s going to end up assisting the defense. Eleven months ago, we speculated regarding the dates on the timeline of this case, specifically how they related to the question of whether or not it was medically feasible that the child was Pitino’s. Even if you give Sypher the biggest benefit of the doubt, that means she could only have been five weeks pregnant at the time. The best medical imaging test Sypher could have had performed to confirm her pregnancy can only detect fetuses at 4.5 to five weeks at the earliest. That’s pretty good precision by Sypher, because it’s a very small margin of time — we are talking a few days, here — that would account for her both knowing she was pregnant and the child being Pitino’s. Is this relevant to whether or not she tried to extort Pitino? Barely, but it is relevant to the allegation of rape, and in that way Pitino is not only a witness for the prosecution but also the accused. We’d say he cares less about what happens to Sypher at the end of all of this compared to how badly he wants to hear a judge and a jury specifically say to the world that he did not rape this woman.
That in mind, the most important witness of the day may have been Karen Sypher’s former husband, Tim. Under direct examination, he confirmed that he first met Sypher four days after Pitino asked him to drive her to Cincinnati. Tim Sypher said that the trip to Cincy was so that Karen could have an abortion. This was the meeting that resulted in the Syphers falling in love and getting married for several years. Tim then verified that after the marriage went bad, Karen began talking about how Pitino raped her all those years ago and spoke often about the material things she wanted, and he even went so far as to call her previously unspoken rape allegations as “craziness, out of the blue.” When you pair that with previous allegations of extortion made against her, it isn’t flattering. It was also revealed in court today that the abortion clinic’s records confirmed that Sypher stated she was “confident in her decision” and “wasn’t making it under pressure” even though she’s stated that Pitino “forced” her into getting the abortion. Looks good for Pitino, right? One problem. Pitino admits that he gave Karen Sypher $3,000, saying he thought it was for health insurance. As we noted in the article from last August, there’s no way any insurer would take $3,000 — as it turns out, the price of the abortion — to take care of a 43-year old woman through a high-risk pregnancy; it costs a lot more. So, knowing that, if the $3,000 was for health insurance…why did Pitino call Tim Sypher and ask him to take this woman to Cincinnati? Health insurance is available in Louisville, last we checked. But if we assume that both are lying, when you consider something that Pitino said in court today — “this is not myself vs Karen Sypher, it’s the United States vs Karen Sypher” — you remember that she’s the one who has to defend herself, and therefore her lie is bigger than Pitino’s.
In our view, using the accounts of the two sites linked above and our own common sense, it’s not only looking bad for Sypher, but Pitino isn’t looking as bad as he could (even though still looks pretty bad). But isn’t that why courtroom dramas on television and in movies are so successful? They force you to think one way, then the other side presents its case and you side with them until the big unexpected witness or piece of evidence is dropped into your lap and everything is resolved. So far, we’ve only heard part of the prosecution’s case, and none of the defense. There’s a long way to go.