A jury in Columbia, S.C., found in favor of Hornets owner George Shinn yesterday in a lawsuit brought by a woman who accused him of forcing her to have sex.

The decision in the two-week civil trial ended Leslie Price's more than two-year fight. She was seeking monetary damages and contended Shinn sexually assaulted her at his Tega Cay, S.C., home in 1997.

The jury reached a verdict in less than two hours.

"He's gotten away," a tearful Price said later. "I didn't let him get away. He didn't pay me off. . . . I have been browbeaten to settle, and I wouldn't do it."

Shinn was not in court for the verdict. His lawyer said he had gone to Charlotte on business.

"I am personally very sorry for the embarrassment that these absurd accusations caused my family, friends, employees and the people of Charlotte," he said in a statement through the Hornets.

"We all have made mistakes during our lifetime, and this is one that I hope everyone will allow me to put in the past."

Shinn had admitted having a sexual encounter with Price, but said it was consensual. Prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.

CLIPPERS SIGN CONLON: Free agent F Marty Conlon, waived by the Celtics earlier this week, signed a contract with the Clippers. To make room for Conlon on their 12-man roster, the Clippers placed F Brian Skinner, who has a sprained left ankle, on the injured list.