Bryant prosecutor asks for delay in rape trial

Alleged rape victim files civil lawsuit

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 Posted: 1:24 PM EDT (1724 GMT)


Kobe Bryant

DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant case asked the judge to delay his trial indefinitely, saying the accuser has been affected by developments in the case and the release of closed-door testimony has hurt their ability to get a fair jury.

The motion was made public Wednesday but submitted Tuesday, the day the 20-year-old woman filed a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the NBA star.

In the court filing, prosecutor Dana Easter said the release of the hearing transcript detailing a defense expert's testimony about the accuser's sexual activities was "extremely harmful" to the prosecution's case, especially under a strict gag order issued by District Judge Terry Ruckriegle.

"The release of this information 28 days prior to trial will have the effect of tainting the jury pool and impact the ability of the prosecution to obtain a fair jury at this time," Easter wrote.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin August 27.

Easter also said Ruckriegle has not yet ruled on whether the defense can present evidence on the woman's mental health and allegations of drug and alcohol use. Prosecutors would need to hire expert witnesses to counter such evidence -- a move they don't want to make until there is a ruling because of tight judicial budgets, she said.

Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan refused to comment, saying the filing spoke for itself.

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the woman, then 19, at the Vail-area resort where she worked last summer. If convicted, the Los Angeles Lakers star faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000.

The woman's attorneys last week went on national television to complain about mistakes made by court staff. The accuser's name has been included in filings mistakenly posted on a state court Web site and a court reporter accidentally e-mailed transcripts of a closed-door hearing on the woman's sexual activities to seven news organizations. They published the details after winning a First Amendment court fight with the judge.