The Seattle Storm announced last Saturday that the organization is looking into allegations of domestic violence against WNBA All-Star forward Natasha Howard.
"The organization is aware of the recent allegations against Natasha," Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel and CEO/GM Alisha Valavanis stated. "We are in communication with the league and looking into them."
Late on Tuesday evening, Howard released her own statement through her attorney. She denied the allegations, and noted that she has filed for divorce from her wife. Furthermore, she said this would be her only statement on the matter in an effort to keep her focus on basketball.
The allegations that have been made against me are very serious. I deny them.
I do not take them lightly, but I do not believe that they should be evaluated and decided through social media or through the media generally. That is why I have waited to comment.
On Monday, July 15, I filed for divorce in King County Superior Court.
I also filed with the court my own sworn statement and a sworn statement from my Mom. Both statements fully address -- and deny -- the allegations made against me. The filed documents are public record.
My attorney has provided all of these documents to the Seattle Storm, and my attorney has authorized the sharing of the documents with the WNBA.
I am prepared to cooperate with any investigation that the Seattle Storm or the WNBA undertakes.
Going forward, I will continue to deal with the issues related to my divorce through the court process only. I am confident that through the court process the real story will come out.
I will have no further comment, as I want to give my teammates, coaches, and the Seattle Storm the respect they deserve by keeping my focus on basketball.
As of this point, Howard is not facing any punishment from either the Storm or the WNBA, and will continue to play. Unlike many leagues, the WNBA does not currently have a specific policy regarding domestic violence. Prior to their game against the New York Liberty on Sunday night, the Storm released another statement saying that Howard would suit up for the game.
"Natasha will play in the game tonight," Brummel said in a statement. "We are in continued communication with the league and their investigation is now in progress
Over the weekend, Howard's wife took to Twitter with videos and screenshots of text messages that she says detail various alleged instances of domestic violence and emotional abuse from Howard. In addition, she produced text message exchanges about the issue with Valavanis, the Storm's GM, as well as with Howard's agent. Per her complaints, many of the episodes took place while Howard was playing in Russia during the winter.
Last week, Howard was named as a starter for the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game, which is set for July 27 in Las Vegas. This is Howard's sixth season in the league, and her second with the Storm.