Report: Florida woman alleges she was groped

Updated: August 3, 2004, 11:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Prosecutors are planning an aggressive move in the sexual assualt case against Kobe Bryant, possibly to counteract the damage caused by the release of edited transcripts Monday.

The prosecution intends to subpoena a 22-year-old Florida waitress who claims she was the object of unwanted sexual advances by the NBA star, Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site Tuesday.

A day after the judge in Bryant's case released transcripts from a closed-door hearing that could potentially weaken the case against Bryant, SI.com learned that prosecutors have notified Bryant's defense team that the woman may be called as a witness at the trial, which is set to begin Aug. 27 in Eagle, Colo.

The woman, whose testimony might be used to show that aggressive sexual actions are part of Bryant's pattern of behavior, alleges she was assaulted by Bryant during a party at Shaquille O'Neal's home in Orlando on Thanksgiving 2002.

According to the Sports Illustrated report, the woman was among the employees of Orlando's Planet Hollywood restaurant who worked a private party at O'Neal's home. The woman claims that at the party Bryant asked for her cellphone number, which she provided, and then later asked her to bring him a drink outside.

She brought Bryant the drink, in the presence of another man, at which time, she alleges, Bryant cornered her and groped her private parts, SI reported.

Bryant laughed as the woman pushed him away and, the next day, a man who said he was an associate of Bryant's called the woman to apologize for Bryant's behavior.

The woman did not initially report the incident to the police, according to SI, but after Bryant was charged in the current sexual assault case and held a press conference to declare his innocence, the woman contacted Colorado prosecutors and told them of her alleged encounter with Bryant.

Investigators from Eagle and Los Angeles, sources told Sports Illustrated, then made O'Neal aware, through his agent, Perry Rogers, that he could potentially become a witness in the Bryant case.

O'Neal, through criminal defense lawyer David Chesnoff, refused to speak to the investigators, but he could still be called to testify in Colorado.

Rogers and Chesnoff told SI they could not comment on anything related to O'Neal.

A subpoena became necessary for the Florida woman when she decided she did not want to be a witness in the case -- in which Bryant's 20-year-old accuser has been subject to threats.

The Florida woman's testimony, however, would be significant for the prosecution as a rebuttal were Bryant to take the stand.

It would be up to the jury to decide if there are meaningful similarities between Bryant's alleged behavior in Florida and Colorado. According to documents viewed by SI, the accuser in Colorado told police that Bryant groped her and, when she resisted and tried to flee, Bryant allegedly restrained her and blocked the door to his room.