Sypher extortion trial still stranger than fiction

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The Rick Pitino-Karen Cunagin Sypher saga has never lacked for lurid or ridiculous details. When Sypher’s federal extortion trial began Monday, her defense attorneys claim that Pitino threatened to have her “put concrete in a river” if she didn’t keep quiet about their 2003 affair.

Tuesday was no different.

Ed Reinke/AP


Sypher’s friend, Lester Goetzinger, testified for the prosecution, though I’m not sure he was any help to anyone. As Matt Jones writes, “I can’t do Lester justice.”

To start, He told the court about how he left three threatening messages on Pitino’s cell phone in Feb. 2009. OK, we knew that. What else? How about some absurd comments? From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Asked if [Sypher] knew his name, he said that he was sure she did, given that they had been having sex intermittently since 1999 and that he often wore his LG&E name badge when they met.

Goetzinger told Earhart that Sypher “begged and pleaded for me to make those phone calls. … I did something as a favor for a very good friend. I didn’t know it would turn out to be a felony.”

In other comments that probably would be best left unsaid:

Goetzinger also said Sypher told him that she’d been raped and forced to have an abortion six years earlier by Pitino, and that she wanted a house and $200,000 to $400,000 from him.

“I told her she was crazy if she thought she’d get anything over $20,000.”

The phone messages were played in court on Tuesday. Kentucky Sports Radio has those details.

Call 1:

Hey Rick. Just got some info from abortion clinic up in Cincinnati that in 03, you paid to have an abortion for a young lady that presumably you raped her in the bathroom of a restaurant. I’d kind of like to know how you feel about this and knowing that you, uh, had a baby by you aborted but then also the charges of rape against you. So I will get back wich’ ya.

Call 2:

Yeah Rick, uh, yeah you know you also raped the girl a second time up in her future husband’s condo while he was upstairs. Why would you do something like ‘at? So now I’m not out to get money, I don’t want any part of that, but I just want you to do the right thing for the woman. You need to do the right thing, that’s all.

Call 3 (10 days later):

Within two weeks, media will be notified of all the evidence and details of the rape.

Two days after making the last call, Lester was called by Sypher and said, “don’t call me, I am being followed and watched.” She then called a couple of days later and when he answered said, “I need to find out what to do about these phone calls that you made.” He said he wasn’t interested, and they did not talk again.

And that was him talking to the prosection. Under cross-examination by the defense, Goetzinger seemed unable to remember much about the third call and that he was “just being stupid” for helping Sypher.

Some day, this will all be a made-for-TV movie on Lifetime, I’m certain.

So that was Day 2. Where can the trial go from here?

Pitino may testify Wednesday or Thursday.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.