Alleged victim asks for ‘swift resolution’
Attorney says woman’s life won’t get back to normal until the case is concluded
By Randy Wyrick
Daily Staff Writer
No one connected to the Kobe Bryant rape case faces what the alleged victim does each day, including Bryant, said the alleged victim’s attorney, who asked that the judge quickly set the case for trial.
Attorney John Clune, filing under the Colorado’s Victim’s Rights Amendment, asked District Judge Terry Ruckriegle for “swift resolution” in the case. Clune said the request was being made “in the interest of the victim’s safety and to prevent even further harm as a consequence of reporting criminal conduct.”
The case is now in its eighth month, with motions hearings scheduled at least through May.
“As each month passes, more dates are scheduled for motions, and more death threats are sent to a 19-year-old girl who has been forced to leave everyone who has the ability to protect her,” wrote Clune.
According to a letter to Ruckriegle from the alleged victim’s mother, since the night of June 30, when Bryant allegedly raped the young woman at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, she has received hundreds of death threats and thousands of obscene messages.
“We are constantly worried about her safety,” her mother wrote.
Clune wrote that since the beginning of the case, the alleged victim has been forced to deal with “unusual and harmful circumstances.”
“She has been forced to quit school, she cannot live at home, she cannot talk to her friends and she has received literally hundreds of phone calls and e-mails threatening either death or mutilation,” wrote Clune. “Her daily concern is ‘When will the media or defense investigators find me and where will I go then?’
“None of these consequences will end until after this case goes to trial.”
Former Denver prosecutor Norm Early said the victim is also entitled to a speedy trial under the Victim’s Rights Amendment to Colorado’s state Constitution.
“She wants to get on with her life, to be with her friends, to be with her family,” said Early. “This letter gives the judge a feeling for what the victim is going through. It’s very persuasive. Why would a woman continue to go through this kind of hell if it didn’t happen to her?”
Tale of two lives
“No one else involved in this case has had to make the life changes and compromises that my daughter has had to make, and will need to continue to make until this case is over,” wrote her mother.
When Bryant is in Eagle for court proceedings, he leaves the courthouse reportedly to have lunch on a private plane. The plane is parked at the Eagle County Regional Airport, situated close enough to one of the hangars that no one can see Bryant enter or leave, say photographers who have carefully surveyed the scene.
On Wednesday, a private plane was waiting to speed him to Los Angeles for that night’s Lakers game, taking off at around 5:30 p.m. ” 4:30 Pacific time ” to get him to the arena in plenty of time.
A private plane flew him back to Eagle in time for hearings Thursday morning. Bryant is constantly surrounded by security guards.
Juxtaposed against that, Bryant’s alleged victim has been forced to move constantly because she and her family fear for the young woman’s safety, her mother wrote.
Her mother wrote that her daughter cannot live with family or friends.
Her mother also wrote that earlier this week, her daughter was trying to have dinner with a friend and the friend’s mother and was approached by a man with a camera. She said the man started taking pictures and refused to stop until they called for help.
The frustration, her mother wrote, is in not knowing what or who could be next.
“The victim showed remarkable strength and tremendous resolve after her testimony was concluded yesterday,” said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan.
When asked if the alleged victim had been prepared for the way her life would be up-ended, Flannigan said, “I don’t know if any victim can prepare for this.”
How speedy is speedy?
Under Colorado law, Bryant’s trial is required to begin within six months of the date on which he enters a plea ” which defense attorney Pamela Mackey has said will be a “not guilty” plea.
And while Mackey, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Clune have all asked the judge to speed things along ” and Ruckriegle himself made his identical wish clear ” the pace probably won’t pick up too much.
Defense experts are still examining swatches of cloth cut from the alleged victim’s underwear and results won’t be back until the end of April.
Denver defense attorney Craig Silverman said those results are likely to spark another round of motions from both sides, each challenging the other’s findings.
Legal experts at the courthouse watching the proceedings said the pace is dictated by two factors. First is the busy court schedule. Ruckriegle said during an earlier hearing in open court that the 5th Judicial District has thousands of cases to hear besides Bryant’s. Second is the tremendous amount of paperwork and motions the case is generating. Those motions must each be dealt with individually.
Ruckriegle’s increased caseload isn’t helped by budget cuts in the state judicial system.
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