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Accuser may focus only on civil case

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant's prosecutors said Wednesday he will
be put on trial later this month, even as attorneys for the woman
accusing the NBA star of rape suggested her participation is not a
sure bet.

Attorney John Clune said his 20-year-old client will have to
talk with prosecutors about whether she will go ahead with the
criminal case. He said she fears the recent release of court
documents that refer to her sex life threatens her chance of
getting a fair trial.

Asked if his client is considering dropping out of the case,
Clune told The Associated Press: "That's something she and
prosecutors will have to discuss in the immediate future. The DA's
office will have to make that decision on what they want to do."

Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said prosecutors had
been told the woman would still participate even after the
transcripts were released earlier this week.

"Nothing has changed with our plans of going forward with the
prosecution of this case," she said. "The impression I got was
that the victim needs to have strong resolve."

Flannigan said she didn't know if the case would proceed if the
woman does not want to participate. The trial is scheduled to begin
Aug. 27.

Bryant has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault, saying
he had consensual sex with the woman at a Vail-area resort last
summer. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20
years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000.

Clune said his client is considering filing a civil lawsuit
against Bryant. A civil case requires a lower standard of proof
than a criminal case, and could lead to the awarding of monetary
damages but not prison time.

"This young woman is not going away. Whether it proceeds
criminally or civilly or both, justice is going to be had for this
young woman," Clune said. The woman's other lawyer, L. Lin Wood,
said decisions on how to proceed should be made in a matter of
days.

Clune and Wood surprised some legal analysts by appearing on
television news shows Wednesday to discuss their client's concerns
about the upcoming trial, leaving Flannigan to insist the case is
moving forward.

"It may be that (Clune) and his young client don't really know
where they are going," said Scott Robinson, a Denver defense
attorney familiar with the case. "It would seem odd to go this far
and now give up. Maybe it is a mixed message because they have
mixed emotions."

Larry Pozner, a past president of the National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers, said Clune had issued a "white flag of
surrender."

"His statement is the most impactful thing you could say to a
jury: that you are rethinking the case," he said.

Under pressure from the U.S. Supreme Court, District Judge Terry
Ruckriegle on Monday released transcripts from a closed-door
hearing that were mistakenly e-mailed to The Associated Press and
six other media organizations, which fought for the right to
publish their contents.

The documents include testimony from a DNA expert for the
defense who says she is convinced the accuser had sex with someone
after Bryant and before she contacted authorities, a claim Clune
has denied.

There was no testimony in the documents from a prosecution
expert on the issue. Clune and prosecutors say the transcripts are
one-sided and that a gag order in the case prevents them from
presenting their explanation of the evidence.

Prosecutors have suggested the woman put on underwear that
hadn't been washed before going to the hospital, transferring semen
from a man identified only as "Mr. X" to her body.

The judge has said the defense can present evidence about the
woman's sexual activities in the three days before the July 1,
2003, hospital exam, saying it is relevant to help determine the
cause of her injuries, the source of DNA evidence and her
credibility. The woman alleges Bryant raped her the day before the
exam.

Clune and Wood have expressed their frustration with the
released transcripts and other court mistakes that have breached
the woman's privacy.