Accuser's sexual history may be probed

Updated: October 14, 2003, 8:45 AM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant's defense team may have more surprises in store when the preliminary hearing in his sexual assault case resumes Wednesday, analysts said.

Frederick Gannett
AP PhotoJudge Gannett said to be fair and circumspect.
As the hearing began last week, details emerged about the rape allegations against Bryant, with a prosecution witness describing a friendly encounter that veered out of control.

But an angry judge halted the hearing after defense attorney Pamela Mackey questioned the sexual history of the woman accusing the Los Angeles Lakers guard.

She referred to the alleged victim six times by name and dropped a bombshell that drew gasps: Could the woman's injuries be "consistent with a person who had sex with three different men in three days?"

When the hearing resumes, some suggest Mackey may have another surprise -- a rare subpoena for witnesses to testify. Typically, only the prosecution calls witnesses at a preliminary hearing.

But "the rules specifically allow the defense to put on its own evidence," said Denver defense attorney Dan Recht.

A gag order prohibits Mackey and others involved in the case from commenting on it.

Christopher Mueller, a University of Colorado School of Law professor, said that if Mackey pursues her line of questioning about the woman's sexual past, the judge might close the rest of the hearing.

Before allowing her to go ahead, he said Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett will probably ask Mackey to provide him with information to back up her suggestion of promiscuity.

"And she can't really do that in an open hearing if you're going to try to protect the (alleged victim) against embarrassment," Mueller said.

Gannett is not expected to decide Wednesday whether to advance Bryant's case to state district court. He has said he plans to issue a written decision later, something Denver defense attorney Scott Robinson said was unusual.

"I think it really reflects an intention by Judge Gannett to be as circumspect and thorough as he can be, recognizing that a ruling from the bench may not appear to be as learned as a carefully crafted opinion," Robinson said.

Bryant, who is free on $25,000 bond, will have to return to Eagle for the hearing. He has said he and the 19-year-old Eagle woman had consensual sex June 30 while he stayed at the mountain resort where she worked.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press