Judge OKs questioning of Bryant accuser
The attorney for the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape said Tuesday she did not have sex with someone else hours after the alleged attack, hoping to defuse an explosive claim from the defense. The judge later agreed to allow Bryant's attorneys to question the woman in significant detail about her sexual history.
State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle's decision was announced as a two-day hearing ended without rulings on two main issues: the relevance of the woman's sexual conduct in the days surrounding her encounter with Bryant, and whether investigators questioned the NBA star illegally.
Those matters will be taken up again during a March 24-25 hearing at which the accuser is expected to testify.
As he left the courthouse, Bryant smiled, waved and flashed the peace sign to a dozen children who shouted his name and held cardboard signs saying, "Kobe Bryant is Innocent."
Earlier, seven young people arrived to testify in the closed hearing about the 19-year-old woman's sexual history. Six arrived together, the two males looking down and shielding their faces with baseball caps. They were whisked away in one of the defense's sport utility vehicles at the end of the day.
The woman has told police she had sex with someone two days before the alleged attack. The defense, however, insists she slept with "multiple" partners that week ¡ª including someone less than 15 hours after her encounter with Bryant.
In a rare public statement Tuesday, the woman's attorney, John Clune, called that claim "patently false" and said attorneys trying to prove otherwise would be "chasing ghosts." He said his client is confident the trial will remain focused on Bryant's conduct. He declined further comment.
Bryant, 25, has said the two had consensual sex. The Los Angeles Lakers (news) star faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted of the felony sexual assault charge.
The sexual activity of an alleged victim is presumed to be irrelevant under Colorado's rape-shield law, which Bryant's attorneys have challenged as unconstitutional. To present details of other sexual activity to a jury, defense attorneys must prove to a judge it is relevant.
Defense attorneys Hal Haddon and Pamela Mackey say details of the woman's sex life are important in determining whether she was injured by other sexual partners and whether she suffered emotional trauma, as prosecutors claim. They also say they want to know whether she had a "scheme" to sleep with Bryant at the Vail-area resort where she worked last June to win attention from an ex-boyfriend.
The accuser's attorney has kept a low profile, but legal experts said the latest allegation from the defense must have forced Clune to issue his statement.
"If in fact she did have sex in a short time after the alleged rape, that doesn't seem consistent with the reaction to a forcible sexual assault," said Scott Robinson, a Denver attorney who is following the case.
Former prosecutor Norm Early said the defense's "outlandish" allegations were made for obvious reasons. "They're trying to taint the public's mind and eventually taint the mind of the jury pool," he said.