Bryant, accuser’s family make first appearance in District Court
NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his attorneys appeared for the first time in Eagle County District Court Thursday, Dec, 13, waiving the reading of a single rape charge against him and declining to enter a plea.New judge Terry Ruckriegle set two dates for motions hearings (Dec. 19 and Jan. 23) during the 12-minute appearance, as the parents and brothers of Bryant’s 19-year-old accuser sat in court for the first time.Once all the motions are dealt with including the possible release of the Eagle woman’s medical records, charges of media leaks and the requested quashing of evidence such as a police audio-tape interview of Bryant the Los Angeles Lakers guard will enter a plea and a trial date within six months must be set.”I had expected the prosecution to fast-track this to some degree,” said local defense attorney Jim Fahrenholtz. “As it turns out, his NBA schedule is on a perfect track, and it looks like a trial won’t happen until the playoffs are over.”Bryant’s charge of third-degree sexual assault stemming from a June 30 encounter at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera carries a possible jail sentence of four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation. He has admitted to consensual sex with the woman, who was a concierge at the hotel at the time, but denies the rape charge. Bryant’s $25,000 bond remains in place, and he will be required to return for the two motions hearings.– David O. WilliamsVail suffers first net loss in a decadeVail Resorts announced a pre-tax loss of $14 million for Fiscal Year 2003 Thursday, Nov. 13, its first net loss since 1992.The bad news, while largely expected because of hotel reservations that plummeted during the buildup to the war in Iraq last spring, prompted full-page ads in local newspapers explaining the situation and providing assurances that the company is on solid financial footing.”The first thing it means is cut us some slack, and the second thing it means is nothing: we are financially strong, loss or no loss,” Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aron said. “This community can still count on Vail Resorts.”Aron said projects such as the Lionshead redevelopment and Vail’s Front Door are still on track, as is an offer of $4.3 million to build another deck on the Lionshead Parking Structure.The company Thursday also announced it was restating by $3.3 million profits dating back to 1998. Aron said that move is unrelated to an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the reporting of club membership revenues under the company’s former auditor, Arthur Anderson.That probe remains ongoing, and Aron said it has been expanded by the SEC.”At the time the company’s auditor, who was reputed to be the best in the world, thought that the way we accounted for those club memberships was the correct way to do it,” Aron said.He also noted in an interview, and in the newspaper ad, that his $8 million compensation package, played no part in the company’s 2003 losses.”The facts are, the majority of my compensation was charged to Fiscal ’01 and ’02, and it doesn’t quite solve the problem that someone might think at first blush,” he said.Cost-cutting measures resulting in $10 million in savings last fall won’t be repeated this season, Aron said, and no major layoffs are anticipated.– David O. WilliamsSlifer Vail’s mayor once againThe Vail Town Council held a swearing-in ceremony Nov. 11 for its two new council members, Kent Logan and Kim Ruotolo.The duo joins incumbent election winners Greg Moffet and Rod Slifer, and incumbents Ludwig Kurz, Diana Donovan and new Mayor Pro-Tem Dick Cleveland.Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, mayor Kurz stepped down from his mayorship and soon afterward Slifer, by unanimous vote, once again became mayor of Vail.”It felt great,” Slifer said. “I was very happy that it was a unanimous vote, and I think Dick Cleveland is a very good choice for mayor pro-tem.”Slifer was mayor of Vail previously, from 1978 to 1985. His current term will last two years, a term he accepted after councilwoman Diana Donovan publicly excused herself from nomination for the position, saying she would better serve the community as a councilwoman rather than mayor.Slifer said he appreciated former mayor Kurz’s work during, “four pretty tough years,” and said he views the challenges ahead as opportunities for the community.Among the most important topics upcoming for the council, Slifer listed the economy, the Lionshead re-development, the conference center, noise ordinances and parking.– Tom Boyd
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