Op-Ed | News & Opinion
Former NBA star Dwight Howard has responded via his attorney Justin Bailey to the sexual assault and battery allegations filed against him in a Georgia civil lawsuit earlier this year, admitting that he and two other men agreed to engage in sexual activity.
Gaye Magazine stands with victims of sexual assault and abuse. This story is layered and we implore readers to view this piece as a way to analyze it from every angle.
This latest incident is seemingly forcing Howard to admit his sexuality to prove his innocence in court despite going on the record as not being gay. In recent interviews and as of this week in a live broadcast on social media Howard no longer particularly denies his sexuality but rather refuses to address it entirely.
“Y’all too damn nosey worrying about what I’m doing in my bed,” Howard said. “The people who know what’s going on in my bed, they know what the hell going on with my bed and what the hell I do in it.” said Howard.
“I ain’t gotta tell nobody where I put my wood at,” Howard continued…”Y’all just weird. If y’all want to know what people doing in their bedroom or who they messing with or sleeping with, you are weird, you’re the weird one.”
It is obvious Howard wants to keep his sexual partners hidden from the public and is doing his best to not have to address people questioning his sexuality.
To put it frankly, Howard is right about the public not being entitled to knowing who he decides to have sexual relations with. Recent news reports sensationalize his sexual partners in a way that forces him to address his sexuality, a topic he has had to constantly speak about.
In July 2023, a man by the name of Stephen Harper officially filed a state civil lawsuit against Howard, alleging that in 2021 he was a victim of sexual assault and battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress from Howard.
In a response filed this week by his attorney which was obtained by ESPN, Howard requested that the case be dismissed and described his encounter with Harper as consensual.
Harper's lawsuit alleges he met Howard through Instagram DM in May of 2021, where they exchanged explicit messages before arranging to meet at Howard's home on July 19, 2021. While on his way to the encounter, Howard texted him to ask if another man or woman could join in on their planned sexual encounter to which he expressed disinterest.
Once at Howard's home, Harper alleged they were joined by a man dressed as a woman who identified only as “Kitty.” Harper says he tried to resist their sexual advances but Howard and Kitty forced him to participate.
“Mr. Harper was trapped in Defendant’s bedroom and believed that he would suffer imminent bodily harm if he resisted Defendant’s sexual advances,” the lawsuit said.
Afterward, “Mr. Harper felt extremely violated and humiliated, and was in complete shock.” the lawsuit said.
Harper went to the Gwinnett County Police Department a year after the alleged incident in July 2022, according to an incident report from the Gwinnett County Police Department, which was obtained by ESPN. Ultimately, no criminal charges were filed.
However, Dwight Howard's attorney Justin Bailey states, "This report was made following Mr. Harper being blocked on social media and after his first demand for payment was rejected," Bailey said.
Howard denied the allegations in his response, saying that the three men agreed to “engage in consensual sexual activity.” He then asked for a summary judgment, with court costs and attorney fees to be assessed against Harper.
“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,” said Howards attorney, Justin Bailey. “The allegations against Mr. Howard are contested. Mr. Howard intends to present the truth….”
He continued saying, “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.”
"This report was made following Mr. Harper being blocked on social media and after the first demand for payment was rejected," Bailey said.
"We had some independent investigation to conduct and Mr. Harper had some private factors to consider," Stephen Harper's attorney Izmaylova said, "before we all felt ready to proceed with the lawsuit."
This isn't the first time Howard’s sexual encounter has been in the media spotlight.
In March 2019 Howard issued a response to the lawsuit filed against him by another alleged lover, Masin Elije.
According to Elije, the two met at a party and entered into a relationship but eventually called it off due to Howard's infidelity. Elije then alleges that after ending their relationship, Howard used his Pastor, Calvin Simmons, to harass and threaten him into signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement and taking "hush money."
"I don't know this person, never seen him," Howard told TMZ Sports. "Any allegation said about me is false."
In July 2019 Howard appeared on the FS1’s Fair Game with Kristine Leahy, where he spoke about his sexuality and the allegations.
"I'm not gay," Howard said. "It’s a lot of people who are and they have to hide, and there’s people who have mental issues and they have to hide. There’s people who have different problems in life and they have to hide. They have to put on the mask every day, and it’s like, I don’t wanna wear no mask, I just wanna be."
A court date nor the acceptance of the case being dismissed has not yet been reported.