NBA player Dwight Howard was apparently outed in a lawsuit by a male model claiming the former finals champion and future Hall of Famer sexually assaulted him over two years ago during a threesome at Howard’s Atlanta-area home.
Stephen Harper filed a lawsuit claiming Howard and a second man presenting as female forced him to engage in sexual conduct against his will on July 19, 2021. Howard admits to engaging in a sex act with Harper and a third man but claims it was consensual, and he has chosen to fight the charges in court. Howard posted a video that did not address the specifics of the lawsuit but instead told viewers his private life is his own and not the business of the media or the public.
A copy of the lawsuit and Howard’s response was provided to The Advocate by Harper’s attorney of record, Olga Izmaylova of Atlanta Criminal Defense Team Sabbak & Izmaylova, P.C.
According to the lawsuit, the two men met virtually in late May of 2021 over Instagram and later arranged to meet via text messaging in July when their schedules permitted. Some of the messages were included as exhibits in the lawsuit, and they show discussions of a sexual nature and the exchange of apparently explicit media. In his response filed with the court, Howard disputes some details, often on a legal basis, but generally confirms many of the allegations regarding how the two men met and the nature of their text message conversations.
Harper claims he was en route to Howard’s home for a one-on-one hookup when Howard texted proposing a threesome. Harper says he declined. In his response, Howard claims Harper had consented to the threesome in advance of arriving at Howard’s home that evening.
A screen shot of the messages provided to The Advocate shows Howard and Harper discussing a possible threesome, but there is no screen shot provided showing Harper either consenting or refusing to provide consent to the proposed sex act.
“U wanna have a 3some?” asks the participant identified as Howard.
“with who lol & is that what u want? Harper responds.
“A dude lol. Or a girl lol. Then [sic] can’t come till after 4,” the participant identified as Howard reportedly responds.
“I’m already 30 minutes away lol,” Harper responds.
Harper says Howard was alone when he arrived, except for his son, who was asleep in his bedroom. Harper says the pair went to Howard’s bedroom, where they undressed, crawled into bed, and over the next 45 minutes or so engaged in consensual kissing while watching television.
Harper claims Howard was texting while in bed, excused himself after a short time, and returned with a third man named Kitty Sankofa who was presenting as a woman. He says Howard said he and Kitty occasionally engaged in threesomes. Harper says he again refused consent to a threesome but alleges in his suit that he felt overpowered and in fear of physical harm if he refused.
Howard claims he has no recollection of texting but denies that Harper was surprised by the arrival of a third person to join in a sex act.
Harper says Howard “became angry” and declared Harper was “going to do” whatever Howard told him to do and that Harper was “going to like it.” Harper alleges that Howard grabbed his head and forced him to perform oral sex on him while Howard was anally penetrated by Kitty. Harper also claims Howard refused to let him take an Uber home but instead held him against his will and would not let him leave until he consented to letting Kitty drive him home. In his response, Howard denies the encounter was nonconsensual and denies holding Harper against his will at any point.
In his lawsuit, Harper is alleging assault and battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking punitive damages plus legal expenses as well as a jury trial.
Harper filed a report with the Gwinett Police Department nearly a full year after the incident, a copy of which was obtained by RadarOnline. The allegations mirror much of what is alleged in the current lawsuit. The case was dropped by police after Harper failed to show up for an in-person interview.
Howard’s attorney, Justin Bailey of Goede, DeBoest & Cross, spoke with The Advocate and denied any wrongdoing by his client, instead claiming Harper is attempting to profit from the encounter.
“What was a private consensual encounter was made public for profit and Mr. Howard looks forward to bringing the truth to light in a court of law,” Bailey said on behalf of Howard in a statement provided to The Advocate.“The allegations against Mr. Howard are contested. Mr. Howard intends to present the truth. The truth is Mr. Howard blocked Mr. Harper on social media and then was confronted with two options — pay to protect his reputation or have a fabricated story made public. Despite being an easy target due to the subject matter and his status as a celebrity, Mr. Howard chose to trust in the justice system and will rely on all future court filings to speak for themselves.”
Izmaylova provided The Advocate with a statement saying that Harper did not consent to the threesome and that Howard’s denials were not unexpected.
“It has come to my attention that Mr. Howard is now attempting to label my client’s filing of this lawsuit as an act of extortion, which is absolutely false,” Izmaylova said in a statement provided to The Advocate. “Mr. Harper is exercising his legal rights, in accordance with Georgia law, and seeking redress for the unlawful acts he endured.”
While denying any wrongdoing on his part, Howard has confirmed that he was involved in a same-sex sexual encounter with two other men. In effect, Howard outed himself, but it remains unclear exactly what that means because he has adamantly refused to clarify or further discuss his sexual identity, preferences, or behavior. In a recent video posted to social media, Howard characterized those who sought to publicize his private personal behavior as “nosy” and “weird” and, in effect, told people to mind their own business.
“Why the hell do you or anybody care who the hell I spend my time with. That’s a problem with y’all, people. Y’all worried about who people spend they time with,” Howard said in the video. “Whatever I’m doing in my bedroom is my damn business. Whatever you doing in your bedroom is your damn business. That ain’t for everybody and everybody don’t need to know. You ain’t got to say anything about what you doing in your fucking house. It’s your house. You ain’t got to explain that to nobody no matter what they say. They can say anything. Who gives two shits?”
“Y’all too damn nosy, worried about what I’m doing in my bed. Hell, the people who know what going on in my bed, they know what the hell going on with my bed and what the hell I do in it,” Howard continued in the video. “That ain’t for everybody on the internet. That ain’t for no blogs. That ain’t for no websites. I don’t got to tell nobody where I put my wood at since y’all want to get to it. That ain’t nobody business where I put my shit at. Y’all just weird. If you want to know what people doing in their bedroom and who they messing with and sleeping with, you are weird. You’re the weird one.”
News of the lawsuit has led some in the media to suggest insider word of a potential suit scared NBA teams away from signing Howard after the 2020-2021 NBA season, only a season removed from winning a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. The bombastic sports personality Stephen A. Smith said he had long suspected there was a reason Howard remained unsigned following his last season in the league with the Atlanta Hawks.
“There’s got to be an explanation why that brother ain’t on an NBA roster because he’s got the body of an Adonis. He’s in constant elite physical condition,” Smith recalled of his thoughts at the time on his most recent podcast of The Stephen A. Smith Show, adding, “You trying to tell me definitively that the Golden State Warriors couldn’t use Dwight Howard? … You trying to tell me that they couldn’t use a big body who blocks shots and defends and who can run the floor and finish at the basket in terms of dunking? … Come on, y’all, come on. It’s got to be something else.”
Howard played last year with the Taoyuan Leopards of the T1 League in Taiwan, where he led the league in rebounding and was selected to the T1 League All-Defensive First Team despite missing numerous games due to injury.