<
>

Judge formally accepts withdrawal of request to seal

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.