Bryant’s alleged victim stands out on the stand
Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim handled herself well during her first trip to the witness stand Wednesday, sources close to the investigation told the Vail Daily.
Sources said she did fine with questioning from both the prosecution and the defense. She was in the courtroom almost four hours. She will not have to appear again today for this two-day set of hearings.
The 19-year-old woman was the first witness to take the stand Wednesday morning, followed by her former roommate at the University of Northern Colorado, Mandy Ross, and Bob Pietrack, the bellman to whom she first told her version of events that night, June 30, 2003, at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera.
The alleged victim showed no emotion entering or leaving Courtroom 1. She made no eye contact with anyone, including Bryant, as she strode across the hall from the fire exit and directly to the witness stand, as the courtroom door closed behind her.
Bryant, 25, the NBA basketball star charged with raping her, was already in the courtroom when the alleged victim arrived. It was the first time the two had been in the same place since that night in his hotel room.
“She walked in with her head held high and out with her head held high. It shows strength of character,” said Cynthia Stone of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “All along the defense has tried to bring in rumor and innuendo. They included that information in the motions they file, which are posted on a Web site, a very public forum. They’re trying to try this case in the court of public opinion, in addition to the court of law.”
Not so fast, said Denver defense attorney Craig Silverman.
“I don’t think it’s possible to look a someone’s face and know how it went,” said Silverman. “She looked composed and stoic.”
Silverman said questioning by Bryant’s attorneys likely started in a civil tone, but probably grew more challenging and belligerent as the session continued.
“This was an audition of sorts for the trial, to learn how she’ll react to what sorts of questions,” said Silverman.
Still, just getting through Wednesday’s opening round is a victory of sorts for the alleged victim, said Kathie Kramer of the Rape Assistance Awareness Program.
“I cannot overstate how overwhelming it is for the alleged victim to be in the courtroom for the first time with the defendant in this case, but to also answer questions about her past sexual activity ” a topic most people would probably prefer to keep private.”
What they want
The alleged victim was testifying as part of a rape shield hearing. The law is designed to prevent a rape victim’s consensual sexual history into court.
“The purpose of rape shield is not to disallow evidence relevant in the case about what happened on June 30,” said Kramer.
Defense attorneys say the alleged victim’s credibility is central to their case, and her sexual activities around the time of the incident is part of that. Among other things, they have asserted that she had sex with someone else less than 15 hours after the incident with Bryant ” which her attorney John Clune has vigorously denied. Defense attorneys are also want access to the alleged victim’s medical records, a request prosecutors are fighting.
When sheriff’s investigators tape-recorded an interview with Bryant during the early morning hours of July 2, 2003, they also collected physical evidence including a T-shirt Bryant was wearing that was stained with the alleged victim’s blood.
Defense attorneys say Bryant felt he was under arrest and was compelled to cooperate. Prosecutors and sheriff’s investigators say Bryant cooperated voluntarily.
District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, who’s hearing the case, has yet to rule on any of these matters.
“If the judge gives the defense everything they’re looking for, this case is over,” said Silverman. “It’s still in the early rounds. But if the defense connects on this combination, the prosecution will be knocked out.”
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