Sheriff's office to investigate possible leak

Updated: August 6, 2003, 11:22 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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