Bryant judge expected to order sex-assault trial |

Bryant judge expected to order sex-assault trial

Jon Sarche

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett is expected to release his written decision as early as Monday, and most analysts believe he will send the case to district court.

“”The main thrust of the evidence that came out is that she was forced to have sex against her will, and that there was physical force and physical violence,” former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser said. “”And I think that’s enough.”

Bryant worked out over the weekend with younger members of the Los Angeles Lakers.

During a two-day preliminary hearing, graphic and at times conflicting evidence emerged about the night Bryant and the woman were in his suite at a mountain resort where she worked.

The 19-year-old Eagle woman told sheriff’s investigators Bryant bent her over a chair and raped her while she cried and asked him to stop. Bryant asked her several times not to tell anyone, Detective Doug Winters testified.

The detective, under cross-examination, said Bryant stopped when the woman pried his hand off her neck. He also acknowledged the woman had had sex with another man in the days before her encounter with Bryant.

The man’s semen was on panties the woman wore to the hospital to undergo a rape examination. The panties were a different pair than those she said she wore the night she met Bryant.

The defense has contended the woman had sex with three men in three days and that her injuries may have been caused by those encounters.

If Gannett orders Bryant to stand trial, he must appear in district court for an initial appearance, reading of the charge and bond hearing, similar to the Aug. 6 session in Eagle County Court. He also could enter a plea.

His lawyers could appeal, but analysts have said that would be a rare move.

If the judge decides to dismiss the charge, he will put the decision on hold for 10 days to give prosecutors time to ask a district judge to take the case. Without such a request, Gannett said he would dismiss Bryant’s $25,000 bond.

The 25-year-old Lakers guard has said he and the woman had consensual sex June 30 at the mountain resort where she worked.

Bryant attorney Pamela Mackey said she believes Winters’ testimony proved the Los Angeles Lakers guard is innocent, while prosecutor Mark Hurlbert said he presented enough evidence to persuade Gannett to order Bryant to stand trial.

Analysts believe Gannett will rule that Hurlbert reached the relatively low threshold of proof required at a preliminary hearing.

“”If the (woman’s) story indicates that she was sexually assaulted, that is enough to bring the case forward absent some conclusive proof that she is lying,” said University of Colorado School of Law professor Christopher Mueller.

Unless Bryant waives his speedy-trial right trial, his trial would be scheduled within six months of pleading not guilty.

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