Accuser in Kobe Bryant case preparing for testimony
DENVER – The 19-year-old woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape has probably already been taken inside the courtroom where she will testify about her sexual history. She has probably been put through mock questioning by prosecutors.
But when she walks into state District Court in Eagle on Wednesday, it will be the first time she has seen the NBA star since their encounter last June in his room at the Vail-area resort where she worked.
For other alleged victims, the anticipation of testifying under such circumstances has led to weeks of nightmares and difficulty sleeping and eating, said Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor who worked with many alleged victims.
“To be talking about these things in front of perhaps other witnesses, certainly in front of the lawyers, who are all strangers to her, and being asked about some of the most private details of your life in front of the person you’ve alleged sexually assaulted you has to be extraordinarily difficult,” she said.
The woman’s attorney, John Clune, did not return a message left Monday seeking comment.
Bryant, 25, has said the two had consensual sex. The Los Angeles Lakers star faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted of felony sexual assault.
The woman will testify behind closed doors in response to a subpoena issued by Bryant’s attorneys, who want to convince the judge her sexual history is relevant and should be introduced as evidence.
They have said in court and in court filings she had multiple sexual partners before her encounter with Bryant and possibly another partner hours afterward. The defense says her injuries could have been caused by another sexual partner.
Bruce Carey, a former prosecutor in the judicial district where Bryant is charged, said little preparation should be required for a witness who tells the truth.
“If you lived through something, you shouldn’t have to think too hard to remember it,” he said. “If, however, you told this story in the light you wanted to at the time, then you would perhaps struggle to retell it as closely as possible a second, third or fourth time.”
Prosecutors probably have tried to help the woman become familiar with the courtroom, urged her to think about every question and to take her time answering, Steinhauser said.
Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor who teaches at the New England School of Law, said months of seeing her life dissected by defense attorneys and the media may have strengthened the woman’s resolve.
“There are only two choices,” Murphy said. “When you’re getting beat up by the system, you either walk away or you get stronger. From what I can tell, she’s sticking it out, she’s standing tall and she’s continuing to participate. What’s left for her to go through?”