Jury Selection Begins In Sypher Trial

By Rick Howlett

Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the federal trial of Karen Sypher, who’s charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.    

Sypher is accused of threatening to go public with an allegation of rape against Pitino if he did not give her $10 million plus pay off her mortgage and her children’s college tuition.

Pitino reported the alleged extortion attempt to the FBI in April of 2009.

He said he had a sexual encounter with Sypher in a Louisville restaurant six years earlier, but it was consensual. A police investigation found no evidence that there was a sexual assault.

Sypher denies trying to extort Pitino or retaliate against him for reporting her to the authorities. Prosecutors say Sypher had previously made a false sexual harrassment claim against a local businessman.  

The case has generated intense media attention. Officials have taken the unusual step of setting up a special room in the courthouse during the trial to accomodate reporters. An overflow room will also available for people to listen to the trial if there are no seats in the courtroom.        

Opening arguments in the trial are set for July 26.