SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz on Thursday stayed relatively mum in the wake of a TMZ report indicating that center Jeff Withey’s ex-fiancee has filed a police report accusing him of domestic violence.
TMZ reported that Kennedy Summers, a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, filed the report in Manhattan Beach, California.
“We are aware of the media reports involving Jeff Withey,” a statement released by the Jazz said. “At this point, we are collecting information and will have no further comment until we have a better understanding of the situation.”
According to TMZ, the police report references multiple alleged incidents, with law enforcement focused on one in particular in 2016.
No police report or arrest was made at that time.
The Associated Press reported that according to police, it will be up to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to determine if Withey will be charged with a crime.
"Given the ongoing circumstances, our client now needs to protect herself and come forward about everything so this doesn't happen to her or others in the future," a representative for Summers, Zack Teperman, told TMZ.
Withey's attorney, Alan Jackson of Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP in California, released a statement saying, "These salacious and patently false allegations appear to be nothing more than a vicious and calculated attempt by an angry former girlfriend to damage Mr. Withey's good reputation. It is no coincidence that these fabricated claims conveniently come during the middle of the NBA playoffs or that TMZ and the police department were notified on the same day.
"There is no truth to the accusations, and when the facts come to light, we are confident that the falsity of the claims and the true motivations of the person behind them will be exposed."
Withey was not made available to reporters at the team’s practice Thursday, and Utah coach Quin Snyder essentially echoed the Jazz's statement when asked about it.
“I think it’s a situation we’re aware of,” he said. “They’re researching to find out all the facts. Other than that, it’s not appropriate for me to comment.”
Asked if the report will be a distraction for the team as it prepares for Game 3 of its playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night at Vivint Arena, Snyder said, “At this point we’re researching. We’re looking at what the situation is and I’m not going to be irresponsible and comment beyond that until we have more information.”
Withey and Summers broke up in the summer of 2016, but reconciled and were engaged until October.
A fourth-year center out of Kansas, Withey appeared in 50 games during the regular season, but has played nine minutes in each of the first two contests of the playoffs thanks to the injury Rudy Gobert suffered at the beginning of Game 1. Gobert will not be available again in Game 3.
“Jeff will be great,” said wing Joe Ingles in regard to Withey being ready to play in Game 3. “He’s been huge for us all year. Obviously it’s a personal thing, and him and his people will deal with that, but we’ll make sure he’s ready. He’s a professional. He knows what to do, and he’s played in the league a long time. He’s played a lot of basketball. We support him and we’ll have his back, ready to go forward tomorrow.”
Big man Derrick Favors had similar thoughts.
“He’s focused, he’s focused,” Favors said. “He’s going through some personal business right now, but overall he’s a good teammate. We’re here to support him.”