Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Kobe Bryant faces accuser in court as the playoffs loom


Kobe Bryant's accuser testified about her sex life for more than three hours during a hearing that will determine whether any of the information can be introduced at the NBA star's rape trial.

Wednesday's hearing, closed to reporters and the public, marked the first time the 19-year-old woman has faced Bryant since their encounter last summer. In the small courtroom, the witness box is located just a few feet from the defendant's table.

Experts said she was probably questioned about the most intimate details of her sexual history.

"The hard questions will make her quite sober as to what she's got to face and maybe put it in her mind what will happen at trial," said Robert Pugsley, a professor at Southwestern University School of Law.

The woman slipped into the courthouse through a fire exit as her parents entered through another door. Appearing calm and composed, she ignored a throng of reporters and photographers as she walked into the courtroom.

She was finished by lunch and did not return for the afternoon session. It was unclear whether she would have to testify again, but courts spokeswoman Karen Salaz said the woman was not expected to be in court Thursday, when more witnesses were scheduled to testify in private about her sex life. Salaz would not elaborate.

Bryant has said he had consensual sex last June with the woman at the Vail-area resort where she worked. If convicted, the Los Angeles Lakers guard faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

His lawyers insist the woman's sexual history should be admitted because it could show that her injuries were caused by another sex partner and that she had a "scheme" to have sex with Bryant and others, possibly to gain the attention of an ex-boyfriend.

Colorado's rape-shield law, like others around the country, generally bars defense attorneys from bringing up information about an alleged victim's sex life. Judges, however, can hear such testimony in private to determine whether the information is relevant and admissible as evidence.

Prosecutors fought to limit defense questioning of the woman but were rebuffed by state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle and the Colorado Supreme Court.

Bryant is required to be at the hearing again today, Salaz said. After Wednesday's hearing, he flew to Los Angeles and played in the Lakers' 115-91 victory over the Sacramento Kings, scoring 36 points.

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