LOUISVILLE — The woman convicted of trying to extort University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said Thursday she wanted to testify at her trial, but her attorney refused to allow it.
Karen Sypher, appearing at a news conference with her new lawyer, said she had multiple witnesses ready to testify on her behalf, but her lawyer, James Earhart, wouldn't call any of them. "I wanted all my witnesses to take the stand," Sypher said. "I could not wait myself to take the stand."
A jury convicted Sypher in August of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliating against a witness. Prosecutors said Sypher demanded millions in cash, cars and a house from Pitino to stay quiet about their one-night stand at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. Her defense rested without calling any witnesses.
Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 27.
Earhart withdrew from the case Wednesday citing a breakdown in communication with Sypher, shortly after David Nolan of Washington, D.C., filed a notice of appearance.
During the news conference, Nolan repeated allegations that Pitino raped Sypher after hours at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. Police and state prosecutors declined to pursue the allegations, saying they lacked supporting evidence.
Nolan attacked the judge and judicial system, saying Sypher has been "judicially raped" over the course of the proceedings. Nolan attacked the use of a court-created Web site where all public filings in the case were posted, as well as U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson, who heard the case.
Nolan said Sypher's conviction will be appealed to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, but he would not say what issues would be raised.
Nolan, backed by a Washington, D.C. group called U.S. Justice Watch, a self-described government watchdog group that works with whistle-blowers, repeated a call for Simpson to step down from the case because he has multiple conflicts of interest because of his involvement with the University of Louisville. "Karen suffered a 21st century Internet lynching before her first day in court," Nolan said.
Simpson, 65, graduated from both the University of Louisville and its law school and had accounts with two financial institutions that offered financing for the new KFC Yum Center, where the University of Louisville basketball team will play.
Jim Faller, the founder of U.S. Judicial Watch, made multiple allegations of corruption against the courts and Earhart, but didn't provide any documentation to back the allegations.
"As Col. Potter said on MASH, there's so much horse hockey, I don't know where to begin," said Faller, who served 24 months in federal prison after being convicted of fraud in Florida in 2000.
Pitino, speaking at the University of Louisville basketball media day, declined to specifically address Sypher's pending sentencing.