Bryant accuser wants trial date from judge

In letter, she discusses dealing with death threats

Pro Basketball

March 26, 2004|By Steve Henson | Steve Henson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

EAGLE, Colo. - The woman accusing Kobe Bryant of sexual assault made an impassioned plea to the judge yesterday, asking him to set a trial date, and saying she has faced constant death threats and upheaval in the nearly nine months since she made the allegation.

John Clune, the lawyer for the 19-year-old alleged victim, included in the court filing a letter to Judge Terry Ruckriegle from the woman's mother that recounted in detail the stress the family has endured.

"We are constantly worried about her safety," wrote the mother, whose name is blacked out in the letter.

"She is followed everywhere by the defense and the media. The defense begins to question everyone she meets. The media reveals her location. Her safety is at risk and she has to move again."

Legal analysts said that although Clune made a compelling argument to speed up the proceedings, he wrongly cited Colorado law in asserting that cases involving sexual offenses have the highest priority on the court calendar. The statute Clune quoted applies only to sex crimes involving victims under age 15.

Clune said prosecutors did not object to setting a trial date and Bryant's attorneys said months ago they desire a swift disposition to the case. However, moving at a faster pace might not be easy.

The rape-shield hearing that took place in closed court Wednesday and yesterday was not completed. Several more witnesses are scheduled to testify at hearings April 26-28. Furthermore, DNA test results are due April 23 on cuttings from the underwear the woman wore at her rape examination, which could trigger another round of motions hearings involving the testimony of forensics experts.

The only rape-shield testimony yesterday came early in the morning when the woman's former boyfriend, Matt Herr, testified for about an hour in closed court.

Defense attorneys have yet to prove what they alleged in an open hearing March 1, that the woman had sex with another man after her encounter with Bryant and before she went to her rape examination.

The rape-shield testimony is to help Ruckriegle determine whether evidence about the woman's sexual conduct is relevant and admissible.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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