LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A woman accused of demanding millions from Rick Pitino to keep quiet about their sexual tryst turned down a plea deal three months after being charged because she wanted revenge, her ex-husband testified Monday.
Randy Wise, who twice married and divorced Karen Cunagin Sypher, said in the summer of 2009 he encouraged her to take a deal so their four children wouldn't be dragged through a trial.
Wise said Sypher turned down his proposition, saying, "I'm going down. I'm going to take Pitino with me."
Sypher has pleaded not guilty to extortion, retaliating against a witness and lying to the FBI. She is accused of demanding college tuition for her children, her house to be paid off and $10 million. She claims the Louisville basketball coach raped her in an Italian restaurant in Louisville in July 2003 — a charge that Pitino denied and that authorities dismissed as lacking merit.
Sypher had an abortion in August 2003, about a month after having sex with Pitino. She claims that it was forced and that Pitino gave her $3,000 for it. Pitino said that he never forced Sypher to have the procedure and that the money was for medical insurance. Six years later, Pitino received phone calls threatening to air the rape charges publicly. A short time later, witnesses said, Sypher had delivered a list of demands for her silence.
Wise also said Sypher called on March 28, 2009, and said Pitino had offered her $100,000. She told him she was holding out for "a half a million dollars," Wise said
"I've got something on Pitino," Wise quoted his ex-wife as saying. Wise said he hung up before Sypher gave any more details.
Wise's testimony came after Sypher's ex-boyfriend Tyree Fields told jurors he met with the former model on April 27, 2009, three days after her initial arrest. He had read about the extortion charge and said he asked Sypher, "What in the heck did you do?"
"Her response to me was that it was stupid, I shouldn't have done it," said Fields, who told jurors he had a sexual relationship with Sypher from the spring of 2008 through 2009. "She knew exactly what I was talking about."
Fields became the third person to testify to having an affair with Sypher while she was married to a longtime Pitino aide.
Sypher's former attorney, Dana R. Kolter, and longtime friend Lester Goetzinger have both told jurors about having sexual relationships with her between 2006 and 2009. Goetzinger also admitted to making the calls to Pitino in exchange for sexual favors from Sypher. Six of the prosecution's 20 witnesses have acknowledged having sexual relationships with Sypher.
Fields, a former basketball talent scout for a sports consulting company, said that early in the relationship Sypher told him Pitino had raped her twice and forced her to get an abortion, Fields said.
Sypher also talked throughout 2008 about her financial issues and divorce from then-husband Tim Sypher, a longtime Pitino aide, Fields said.
"It seemed the financial issues were affecting her happiness," Fields said.
Jurors ended the day watching video of a July 2009 interview Sypher gave Louisville police Sgt. Andy Abbott. In the interview, Sypher describes how Pitino allegedly raped her at the Louisville restaurant, Porcini, on July 31, 2003.
As the video played, Sypher sat with her head in her hands, occasionally covering her ears. About 40 minutes into the interview, Abbott told Sypher she was "all over the place" about the details of what happened.
"Where we are at it does seem like retaliation," Abbott said.
"I know it does," Sypher replied.
Earlier in the day, Kolter told jurors about how Sypher delivered to him a list of items she wanted from Pitino — including a 2010 Lexus SUV, complete with tan leather seats and the luxury package — in March 2009.
Kolter said that he took the allegations against Pitino seriously and that he hoped a lawsuit against Pitino would "bring the wrath of God down."
Kolter, who fidgeted with his tie throughout his testimony and occasionally started to cry, said he didn't know if a lawsuit against Pitino related to an alleged 2003 rape would have been viable because of time limits on filing lawsuits.
"I don't know if I'd have won that argument," Kolter said. "I just know I've got a big 'A' in the middle of my forehead for the rest of my life."
Kolter at times defended his work with Sypher, saying he tried to get her to a psychologist because he thought "her eggs were scrambled." Kolter said his client and part-time lover appeared to be under the control of someone else. Kolter then alluded to the case of Jaycee Dugard, a California girl kidnapped nearly two decades ago, but recovered last year after allegedly being held in the back yard of a sex offender.
"It's kind of a weird circumstance," Kolter said.
Defense attorney James Earhart pointed out that Sypher waived her attorney-client privilege, which normally keeps communication between lawyers and their clients secret, to allow Kolter to testify.
"Part of the situation is a bit embarrassing to you," Earhart said.
"Of course it is," Kolter replied.
"And, embarrassing to Karen?" Earhart asked.
"It should be," Kolter said.