Dwight Howard has officially responded in court to a lawsuit against him brought by another man alleging that Howard sexually assaulted him in the summer of 2021.
Howard’s defense isn’t that sex between the two men never occurred, but that it did in fact take place and that it was consensual.
The story had been making the rounds this week after Radar Online wrote about it. ESPN writer Baxter Holmes obtained the court documents and has a full account of the allegations being made by both men.
The encounters they seem to agree on include direct messages on social media, and then meeting for a hook-up in July 2021.
The accuser, a man named Stephen Harper, alleges that Howard assaulted him that night and he did not give his consent. Howard says the sex was consensual.
One of Howard’s attorneys told ESPN that Harper tried to get Howard to pay him, or Harper would make his allegations public.
For Howard — an eight-time NBA All-Star with a huge public persona — that story is now very public. He has for years been the focus of online rumors that he is gay, which he didn’t help by grabbing a teammate’s crotch on live TV. In 2019, he addressed the rumors, saying, “I’m not gay.”
This new legal saga certainly doesn’t mean he’s gay. But it also likely means he’s not straight. Howard isn’t denying that sexual activity between the two men occurred. In fact, by saying it was consensual, he’s confirming that it did.
There have been two previous former NBA players to come out publicly as gay: John Amaechi in 2007 and Jason Collins in 2013. Dennis Rodman has talked about “experimenting” with other men, though he’s also said he’s not bisexual.
How does Howard identify? That will be up to him to let us know, or not.