Report: Bryant likely to settle

ABC says he `has agreed in principle' in civil suit

deal could come this week

March 02, 2005|By Steve Henson | Steve Henson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES - NBA star Kobe Bryant has agreed to negotiate a monetary settlement with the woman who accused him of rape, sources said yesterday, a development that could end the civil suit against him and bring to a close a lurid, highly publicized episode that began with a felony criminal charge nearly 20 months ago.

Bryant had been scheduled to give a deposition last Friday in Orange County to the woman's attorneys, but it was canceled when he agreed to settlement talks. The accuser's deposition, which was scheduled for today, also was canceled.

Sources said an agreement could be presented to U.S. District Court Federal Judge Richard Matsch in Denver within days. The civil suit was filed Aug. 10, three weeks before the criminal case was dropped when the accuser informed prosecutors that she would not testify.

Bryant was charged with sexual assault stemming from the encounter June 30, 2003, at a mountain resort. He admitted having sex with the woman, who was 19 at the time, but said it was consensual.

His accuser worked at the hotel as a concierge and met him when he checked in that evening. She went to the police the next day and detectives surreptitiously audio-taped a lengthy interview with Bryant at the hotel.

Bryant, who is married and has a young daughter, faced a possible life sentence, could have been sentenced to life in prison and pretrial legal wrangling lasted more than a year. His attorneys planned to attack the accuser's credibility by presenting evidence that she had sex with someone else in the 15 hours after the alleged rape and before her medical examination.

Bryant's attorneys contended that the media and other entities were to blame for any damages, and wrote in a recent motion that the woman had reached a monetary settlement with American Media, which owns several tabloids, including the Globe and the National Enquirer.

Neither Bryant attorneys Hal Haddon and Pamela Mackey, nor the woman's attorneys, Lin Wood and John Clune, would comment. ABC News reported that the two sides "have agreed in principle" to settle the suit.

"It appears Kobe Bryant's deposition was the pressure point that made this happen," Colorado legal expert Craig Silverman said. "Both he and his accuser were going to be asked about their entire sexual histories at their depositions. It was a high-stakes game of chicken."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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