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'They will never be who they were'

3/3/2005 - Kobe Bryant

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant and the woman who accused him of rape
can now begin rebuilding their lives, but they may never shake the
lingering effects of their legal battles that generated sensational
headlines around the world.
A federal judge signed the order Thursday that officially
dismisses the 20-year-old woman's civil lawsuit against the Los
Angeles Lakers star. Terms were not given when attorneys announced
Wednesday that a settlement had been reached.

"They will never be who they were before this happened," said
victims' advocate Krista Flannigan, a former spokeswoman for the
prosecutors who charged Bryant with felony sexual assault. "It's
redefining the normal and redefining their lives to accommodate
what has happened."
The settlement was filed seven months ago, just before
prosecutors dropped a criminal charge against Bryant because the
woman did not want to go ahead with a trial.
Now married and expecting a child, the woman would someday like
to return to college. She dropped out amid the furor that erupted
after her allegations were made public and began moving from town
to town to avoid media scrutiny.
But Flannigan said recovery will probably be difficult for the
former Eagle Valley High School cheerleader who once aspired to a
singing career.
When sexual assault cases end, women involved typically
experience reactions ranging from relief to letdown because they no
longer have the legal battles to focus on and instead have to face
their grief, frustration, sorrow or other emotions, Flannigan said.
Some feel a need to make big changes such as moving to another
state or changing jobs while others take comfort in familiar
surroundings.
"I think there is a sense of relief in this case," Flannigan
said.
For his part, Bryant, 27, can probably buff away some of the
tarnish from his name and again be a fan favorite if he plays well
and stays out of trouble, said Ken Goldin of Goldin Sports
Marketing & Licensing Inc. in Mount Laurel, N.J.
"It won't ever be the same, but it'll be close," he said.
Industry analysts estimated Bryant, a six-time All-Star who
helped the Lakers to three championships, lost up to $6 million in
endorsement income, though the Lakers signed him to a seven-year,
$136 million contract last fall.
"Fans are incredibly forgiving," said Neil Schwartz, director
of marketing and business development for SportsScanINFO in West
Palm Beach, Fla., which tracks nationwide sporting goods sales.
"All he has to do is win a championship or get them [the
Lakers] a little further than they were before, and everybody will
forget about all this and he'll be able to move on."
The settlement allowed Bryant to avoid being questioned under
oath about his encounter with the woman in June 2003 at a Vail-area
resort where she worked, near her hometown of Eagle.
Legal experts said the settlement agreement probably spells out
financial penalties for anyone involved who speaks publicly about
the case or the agreement -- including the dollar amount paid.
"They're buying silence," said Mel Hewitt, a veteran
plaintiff's attorney in Atlanta.
Attorneys for both sides did not return calls on Thursday.