Archive for Saturday, February 28, 2004

Bryant’s accuser to testify

Prosecutors ask judge to limit questioning

February 28, 2004


— The 19-year-old woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape will testify next week for the first time in the case, and prosecutors asked a judge Friday to strictly limit what defense attorneys can ask her.

The woman is scheduled to testify behind closed doors Tuesday at a hearing that will help determine whether her sexual conduct before the June 30 encounter with Bryant can be used against her at trial.

Bryant, 25, is charged with sexually assaulting the woman at a mountain resort near Vail where she worked and he was a guest last June. He has said the two had consensual sex.

Prosecutor Dana Easter accused Bryant's attorneys of trying to get around Colorado's strict "rape shield" law, which generally bars defense attorneys from using such details against alleged assault victims.

The law only allows exceptions for evidence such as semen or pregnancy that suggest someone other than a defendant attacked the alleged victim.

"The defense ... intends to humiliate and embarrass her with allegations of conduct which have no bearing on this case whatsoever," Easter wrote. "It is a humiliating fishing expedition which the prosecution seeks to prevent."

Easter said the woman has already been subjected to death threats and that her life had been disrupted by personal information published around the world and by defense investigators questioning her friends.

A California man was arrested Thursday on charges that he made profanity-laced death threats against the woman and the lead prosecutor in the case. The indictment said Cedric Augustine, 37, began making the threats the day Bryant was charged in July, and continued through mid-November.

In a July 18 phone message left at District Attorney Mark Hurlbert's office, Augustine allegedly said, "Anything happens to Kobe, something will happen to you. We will hunt you down."

The next day, Augustine threatened in a telephone message to shoot Bryant's accuser, prosecutors said. On Sept. 18, he allegedly sent a letter to Hurlbert stating, "We are coming to kill her and her family."

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