Bryant case moving ahead, DA’s spokeswoman says | VailDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Bryant case moving ahead, DA’s spokeswoman says

To steal from Mark Twain, reports of the prosecution’s demise are greatly exaggerated. So far, anyway.It’s not true that Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim is pulling out and the case will be dropped, District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said Wednesday.”We are moving ahead,” Flannigan said.At least for now.The rumors spread like wildfire after the alleged victim’s attorneys, John Clune and Lin Wood, did a round of television interviews Wednesday, saying it may be time to rethink moving the case from criminal court to civil court, where they say Bryant would be required to testify and the field might be more level.Their comments came just before a gag order by District Judge Terry Ruckriegle banned anyone associated with the case from commenting publicly about it. The gag order includes witnesses and attorneys. Clune and Wood spoke with NBC’s “Abrams Report” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.””As of right now she’s ready to go forward but … keep in mind this one-sided, selective transcript that’s been released that no one has the ability to address before trial,” said Clune. “It’s somewhat devastating, so I think that she and the prosecution will have to meet in the very near future to decide what they want to do.”Wood said the alleged victim has been strong, and will remain so.”Remember this,” said Wood. “This young girl for over a year has stood up with resolve and courage despite the fact that her reputation has been smeared, her privacy has been invaded, her life has been threatened. She has withstood this for a year. A couple of times she hesitated, both times were related to the failure of the court to protect her and her privacy and identity.”Local defense attorney and former prosecutor Jim Fahrenholtz said the alleged victim will find justice through the criminal justice system, not the civil courts.”The truest justice a rape victim can find is seeing the person who raped them behind bars, not cashing a check at a bank counter,” said Fahrenholtz. “To not pursue that and pursue money does not make sense, if you are truly a victim.As a former prosecutor, I never heard people talking about taking the case to the civil courts.”The transcriptsClune again lashed out at the courts for posting the alleged victim’s name on their Web site, but more so for mistakenly e-mailing the transcripts of a June 21-22 rape shield hearing to seven media outlets. District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, under pressure from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Colorado Supreme Court, Monday released an edited version of those transcripts.”Just over three weeks prior to trial, you have this damaging evidence that nobody is allowed to respond to,” said Clune. Clune said he, Wood and prosecutors are unable to respond to questions about the alleged victim because of the gag order.”I think there legitimately should be questions about whether the criminal case should move forward in light of the prejudice to this young girl’s rights resulting from this release of this one-sided transcript of paid defense expert,” said Wood. “I think anyone would have to re-evaluate.”Wood also said Ruckriegle should step down from the case. He said Ruckriegle’s own statements indicated how one-sided and prejudicial the transcripts would be when they were released, and that the judge should have included an apology to the alleged victim and her family.”I will tell you I do believe the harm is irreparable from the type of prejudicial publicity generated from this report, this defense expert’s opinion, three weeks before the trial,” said Wood. “I don’t think they can undo it.”Fahrenholtz says blaming Ruckriegle is a mistake.”It’s not the judge’s fault. He didn’t put this information in the hands of the media or anyone else,” said Fahrenholtz. “If they’re truly seeking justice, it’s time to dig in their heels and no matter what the judge rules you go up there and say to that jury, ‘this is what happened to me.’Criminal vs. civil actionWood asserted that the alleged victim can find justice in both civil and criminal courts. He said the decision whether to file a civil lawsuit would be made in a few days, and that the bottom line is for the alleged victim decide where she can best establish the truth of what happened.”The object of the criminal system is the same as the civil system. It’s to search for the truth,” said Wood. “The truth will hold Kobe Bryant accountable in one or both forums. I think she’ll get a more level playing field in a civil case where Kobe Bryant will have to be examined and cross examined, where the details of his life can be scrutinized like her life has been over the past year.” In a criminal case, defendants pay with their freedom when found guilty. In a civil case, they pay with their pocketbook.”Let me suggest to you very strongly that Kobe Bryant raped this person,” said Wood. “When a fair minded person recognizes the truth of the case, a fair minded person will say he should compensate for what he did to her that night. It’s not about money, it’s about establishing truth and its about accountability. The fact that the civil justice system case puts accountability into financial terms doesn’t make this young girl a gold digger. It makes this girl determined to pursue truth, and that can be found in the civil justice system.”Clune said letting Bryant go with an apology is “not an acceptable option.””The one thing that you should know and that Kobe Bryant should know is that doing nothing, going away, is not an option,” said Clune. “Whether this proceeds criminally, civilly, or both, justice is going to be had for this young woman.”Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault for allegedly attacking the woman last June while he stayed at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where she worked last year. If convicted, Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation and a fine up to $750,000. “No” mattersThe case hinges on when the alleged victim told Bryant “no,” the night of the incident, June 30, 2003, at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. The alleged victim says she was raped. Bryant says she consented to sex. According to testimony at last fall’s preliminary hearing, she told sheriff’s investigators she expected Bryant to “make a move” on her when she went into his room.Why did she go to the room?”The first thing she will tell you is that there is nobody who has asked that question more than she has over the last year,” said Clune. “If she could take that one moment back to change all of this, she would. But one of the touchstones of addressing acquaintance rape is the concept of victims and victims rights groups that ‘I wanted him to kiss me, not rape me.'”Wood insisted that doesn’t matter.”No matter what your expectations are going into any situation … you still have the right to say no,” Wood said. “Nothing about anything that the defense has suggested about this woman that changes the word ‘no’ into the word ‘yes.'”Judge Ruckriegle has ruled Bryant’s defense can present evidence at trial about the alleged victim’s sexual activity in the three days before her exam on July 1, 2003, saying it is relevant to determining the source of the DNA evidence, the cause of her injuries and her credibility. Clune again denied defense allegations that the alleged victim had sex with another man after the incident with Bryant, and before her rape exam. Both the alleged victim and one of the outcry witnesses testified that the allegation was not true.”Absolutely she did not,” said Clune. “That’s something that both she has testified to and that we have stated previously.”Clune said when they started through the process more than a year ago, they tried to explain to the alleged victim what she could expect from the tabloid media, and other public scrutiny.”What we didn’t tell her and we didn’t expect is that the very people who needed to protect her were not going to do that,” said Clune. “She holds the people accountable in the criminal justice system who are responsible for the harm she has suffered, but she doesn’t regret doing the right thing.”


Support Local Journalism