LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On the fourth day of the Karen Sypher trial, Rick Pitino and Tim Sypher, Karen's ex-husband, took the witness stand, giving more details about what they said happened on and after July 31, 2003.
Karen Sypher said she was raped that day, but Pitino said the sex between them was consensual. While the defense hammered Pitino the first part of the day, it was Tim Sypher, his long-time aide, who finished out the questioning Thursday afternoon.
Tim Sypher took the stand after 2 p.m. and testified for a little more than two hours. He told jurors that he was married to Karen for six years and they divorced a just few months ago. According to Tim Sypher, the pair are still in a custody battle. When the Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kuhn asked him if that dispute would affect his testimony, he said, "Not at all sir, I'm here to tell the truth."
Tim Sypher told jurors about the day he first met his now ex-wife, who at the time was named Karen Wise, back in 2003. Sypher said he first heard about her from Pitino. Tim Sypher told jurors what he said the coach said to him.
"He asked me if I could help him with something," said Tim Sypher. "That he supposedly got somebody pregnant."
Sypher testified that on August 25, 2003, he set up a meeting with Karen and Pitino at his condo. That meeting is where Karen Sypher told police officers Pitino raped her for a second time. Tim Sypher said he wasn't in the room for the hour-long meeting and heard nothing. But he told jurors Karen's hair was not messed up when she left.
The next day, Tim Sypher said he set up Karen's abortion appointment. Three days later, on August 29, 2003, he drove Karen to Cincinnati Women's Services for the procedure. Tim Sypher also testified Pitino gave him $3,000 in cash to give to Karen for health insurance.
Kuhn: "Did anyone pay for it?"
Tim Sypher: "I paid for it with the money that I got from Coach Pitino."
Tim Sypher said he didn't know what to do and later testified that he gave Karen the rest of the money.
Forward to 2004: Tim Sypher and Karen Wise married on April 16.
Then in 2007, Tim told jurors their marriage had changed and money was tight. That same year, Tim said Karen accused Pitino of raping her.
"All of a sudden, she started yelling rape. He raped me," said Tim Sypher.
He said he told her: "You think if my boss raped you, I would have married you or had a baby?"
Then jump to late February 2009, Tim Sypher said the basketball team was doing well and that the pressure was high. In late February, Sypher said he got a text message from Pitino that said "red alert." Sypher said Pitino told him, "You need to get Karen in here immediately." That message was sent after Pitino got threatening voice mails from an unknown man, later identified as Lester Goetzinger.
The voice mail to Pitino said:
"Hey Rick, I just got some info from an abortion clinic up in Cincinnati that in '03 you paid to have an abortion for a young lady, the same lady you raped in the bathroom of a restaurant."
Tim Sypher said in a couple of meetings with Pitino, Karen Sypher told them she did not know who was making the calls, but then started saying her son needed a car, as did she. Tim Sypher said he told Karen, "You're asking for things? What are you doing? I don't think it's right."
Tim Sypher said on March 6, 2009, the day before the UofL basketball team flew to West Virginia, Karen Sypher again told him she did not know who was leaving Pitino voice mails. At one point, Tim Sypher said Karen told him she wanted things and he said he told her to write them down. On the stand, Tim Sypher said he didn't know what Karen had written because it was sealed when he gave it to Pitino. Sypher testified that as he handed Pitino the list of demands that included homes, cash, and cars, he told the coach, "I really don't want to give this to you. I should rip it up." Sypher also said he told Pitino, "She's nuts."
Judge Charles R. Simpson III wrapped up the day earlier than usual Thursday. The prosecution had started questioning Tim Sypher about his conversations with the FBI. His testimony continues Friday morning.