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Accuser doctored texts in sexual assault suit

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Former NBA star Dwight Howard is asking for the bombshell lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault and battery to be dismissed.

Howard’s attorneys claim that the encounter between their client and Stephen Harper engaged in a consensual encounter involving a third person at Howard’s Georgia residence in July 2021, according to a Thursday filing that was obtained by ESPN.

Harper filed a lawsuit in July alleging that Howard and Harper began corresponding via Instagram direct messages, with Harper initiating the exchange. Harper accused Howard of sexually assaulting him at the latter’s home during the subsequent July 2021 encounter.

In the original filing, Harper included alleged screenshots of messages exchanged between Harper and Howard from 2021, along with an Uber receipt to Howard’s house on the night of the incident.

Howard denied the allegations in October, asking the case to be dismissed.

Howard’s attorneys allege that key text messages were deleted and not present in Harper’s initial complaint. The filing, according to ESPN, contains those new messages along with several that Howard’s attorneys claim are doctored.

“In short, the totality of the text messages between Mr. Howard and Mr. Harper make it abundantly clear that Mr. Harper’s claims are frivolous, that he was a willing participant in the events of July 19, 2021, and the early morning hours of July 20, 2021, and that the touching of his person had been invited by him,” Howard’s attorneys write in Thursday’s filing.

“More importantly, the explicit messages not only show consent but also that Mr. Harper was initiating some of the sexual contact. Mr. Harper not only invited the initial experience, but tried to initiate a second encounter because the first was so enjoyable. As it is undisputed that Mr. Harper consented to the touching between him and Mr. Howard, Mr. Harper’s claims necessarily fail, and Mr. Howard is entitled to summary judgment as the clear consent negates the essential element of intent and the claims of Assault, Battery, False Imprisonment, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress fall like a house of cards.”

Harper’s lawyers didn’t immediately respond to ESPN’s request for comment.

Howard’s attorneys now claim, per the Thursday filing, that the incident is “nothing more than a classic case of unrequited love. After one consensual event together, Mr. Howard was no longer interested in keeping Mr. Harper’s company.”

The filing also alleges that Howard received multiple demands for payment, each from different legal representatives over the course of a year. 

The 38-year-old Howard has long been dogged by rumors regarding his sexuality.

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