Judge formally accepts withdrawal of request to seal

Updated: September 29, 2004, 8:41 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- A judge cleared the way Wednesday for the release of documents and other evidence in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case as early as next week.

Workers in the Eagle County Sheriff's Department were poring over some of the records, removing the name of the accuser and information that would be illegal to make public, such as mental health records.

Eagle County prosecutors also have some of the material. Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said officials would "make every effort" to have the files available Monday.

Prosecutors dropped the felony sexual assault charge against Bryant on Sept. 1 at the request of the alleged victim. Several news organizations including The Associated Press then requested access to the sealed files, including evidence and witness statements.

District Judge Richard Hart temporarily blocked release of the records at the request of Bryant's attorney, Pamela Mackey, who wanted time to argue that they should be permanently sealed.

She said the records contained embarrassing information and that there was no legitimate need to release them.

The temporary seal expired Tuesday and Mackey withdrew the request for a permanent seal. She said as long as prosecutors released all documents -- not just those harmful to Bryant -- the public would able to fully evaluate the decisions of prosecutors and investigators.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert responded by saying he intends to withhold some information that could be embarrassing for Bryant, such as evidence about his sexual history.

Prosecutors and attorneys for the 20-year-old alleged victim had argued for releasing most of the details, saying the public's right to review the information outweighs Bryant's right to privacy.

Still pending is Mackey's request for an investigation to determine who leaked an audio recording and transcript of the NBA star's interview with investigators the night after the alleged attack in June 2003.

The alleged victim has sued Bryant, 26, in Denver federal court, seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering she says has occurred since she accused Bryant of rape.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press