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Woman in Pitino case claims she had unfair trial

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The woman convicted of trying to extort Rick Pitino said she didn't get a fair trial because of the Louisville coach's fame and power.

Karen Cunagin Sypher told The Courier-Journal newspaper that Louisville is a small enough city for any jury to be influenced by Pitino.

"I know now there is no justice system. There is no justice," Sypher said.

Sypher was convicted Thursday of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliating against a witness. Prosecutors said Sypher demanded millions in cash, cars and a house from Pitino to stay quiet about their one-night stand at a Louisville restaurant in 2003.

Sentencing in the case is set for Oct. 27. Sypher said she was "numb" and hasn't thought about a potential prison sentence. Sypher said there's additional evidence her attorney did not use at the trial, but she would not say what it was.

"The story has not come out yet," she said.

Neither Sypher nor her attorney, James Earhart, returned several messages from The Associated Press on Friday.

After the trial, University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said Pitino wouldn't be disciplined for his tryst with Sypher because there was no misconduct on university property.

Sypher blasted both Pitino and the school for not firing him.

"If he can lay his head down at night and sleep well, then all I can say to him is that he only has one person to answer to and he knows who that is -- that's the good Lord above," Sypher said.

Several witnesses testified during Sypher's trial that she traded sexual favors to enlist several people to help her extort Pitino. Her ex-husband, longtime Pitino aide Tim Sypher, also testified against her.

Earhart didn't put any witnesses on the stand, but jurors heard Sypher's words via videotaped interviews with two Louisville television stations and a police interview.

Sypher said she rejected several plea agreements before trial that would have allowed her to avoid prison.

"That would mean I was guilty," she said. "I can honestly say I've never felt so calm in my life, because I finally was allowed to speak after being duct-taped over my mouth for so many years."