Experts were to testify about 'battering ram' injuries

Updated: September 8, 2004, 4:20 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- One of the prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant case said the 20-year-old woman who accused the NBA star of rape grew "physically ill" on the eve of the trial, leading her to pull out of the case and forcing the district attorney to drop the charges against Bryant last week.

Dana Easter, who has worked on sexual assault cases since 1989, said the "remarkable young lady" had withstood over a year of being followed by Bryant's investigators and the media but had feared what was going to happen during the trial.

"She was physically ill. Her anticipation of what was going to be done to her and what was going to be allowed to be done to her was frightening. I don't think any of us will ever experience that kind of awful anticipation," Easter told the Rocky Mountain News in a story published Wednesday.

Had the case gone to trial, Easter said prosecutors could have proved the woman had been raped based on the woman's injuries, Bryant's statement to investigators as well as three people who saw her after the alleged assault.

Easter, who had been prevented from speaking out before because of a gag order in the case, said experts would have testified about "battering ram" injuries suffered by the woman because of the alleged assault on June 30, 2003 at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, where she worked.

"It was a physically violent assault. It was a very degrading assault. It was clearly perpetrated by someone who thought he was entitled," she said.

Easter also said that there was no truth to the defense's claim that the woman had sex with someone else soon after her encounter with Bryant.

In testimony from a closed-door hearing accidentally released to some media outlets, a defense expert said that semen from another man was found on the accuser and in her underwear during her rape exam.

However, Easter presented another explanation. She said the woman returned home stunned after her encounter with Bryant and changed into a blue tank top and yellow underwear that she had pulled out of an overnight bag in her bedroom. She had worn the underwear after having sex on June 18, her birthday.

At the time, Easter said the woman didn't plan to report what had happened even though she had told her friend and bellman Bobby Pietrack and a former boyfriend what had happened that night. When she woke up the next morning, Easter said the woman realized she had to report what happened and called her mother.

"We really believed in her and we still do. I can't emphasize that enough," Easter said. "I think because we work in the system we really believe that is a way for victims to say what happened to them."

Easter said that the woman didn't know who Bryant was when he made a reservation but went to his room to get an autograph for Pietrack, who plays basketball at Fort Lewis College.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Bryant as the final phase of jury selection was set to begin. Still pending is a civil suit filed by the woman seeking an unspecified dollar amount from Bryant.

She is seeking unspecified monetary damages for pain and emotional distress she says she has suffered since her accusation became public 14 months ago.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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