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Sheriff's office to investigate possible leak

EAGLE, Colo. -- The judge in Kobe Bryant's sexual assault
case appointed a special investigator Wednesday to determine
whether law enforcement officials are leaking information about the
case to reporters.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett's order, during the NBA
star's initial court appearance, came in response to a request from
Bryant's attorneys.

The lawyers said recent news reports quoted anonymous sources
describing injuries to Bryant's accuser and the amount of time she
spent in his hotel room. Reports also said Bryant gave inconsistent
statements to law enforcement officials.

Bryant is charged with assaulting an employee at a resort in
nearby Edwards on June 30. He has said the sex was consensual.

Gannett asked the Pitkin County sheriff's office to conduct the
investigation. After the hearing, the judge said he called Pitkin
County officials after meeting with District Attorney Mark Hurlbert
and defense attorney Hal Haddon.

"One of the things we've tried to do in this is systematically
and quickly address every issue," Gannett said. He said he sought
out Pitkin County officials because he wanted an investigating
agency that is "local, had the resources, skills and training."

They have no deadline to finish their investigation, the judge
said.

"The character it's developing is one of an extraordinary
flurry of paper," he said. "This case is different in terms of
the volumes of material coming in."

Gannett has rejected media requests to release court records in
the closely watched case involving one of the NBA's brightest young
stars. But he has also turned down defense requests to keep Bryant
and cameras out of the courtroom.

Eagle County sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Andree said officials
reviewed the comments attributed to law enforcement officials and
determined they were not made by sheriff's office employees.

Making such comments would be grounds for firing, she said.

In a written statement, Sheriff Joseph Hoy said he has told his
staff to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Krista Flannigan, a spokeswoman for the prosecution, said there
has been no internal probe in Hurlbert's office to determine if it
is the source of the leaks.

"The district attorney believes he has a very professional
staff with a lot of integrity, so there has not been any need to do
that," she said.