DA expects to decide on Bryant charges this week
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert is expected to announce this week whether he will file formal charges of sexual assault against basketball star Kobe Bryant.Speaking publicly for the first time since he was accused of sexual assault, Bryant denied the allegations and said he “”would never do something like that.”””When everything comes clean, it will all be fine, you’ll see,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. No charges had been filed against him by Sunday. The five-time NBA All-Star would not discuss the allegations beyond saying he was innocent, the newspaper said.A 19-year-old Eagle woman who works at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in Edwards has accused the 24-year-old Los Angeles Lakers player of sexual assault on the night of June 30.Employees of The Lodge at Vail, in Vail Village, said that Bryant and his entourage stopped first at their hotel between 9 and 9:30 p.m. on June 30. They said they tried to talk the group into staying there, given the lateness of the hour, but Bryant and the others decided to continue on to the Lodge at Cordillera, with its greater privacy, about 15 minutes west of Vail.At the Lodge at Cordillera, the young woman reportedly delivered room service to Bryant. Accounts vary over whether she was at his room for 20 minutes or for up to two hours. She reportedly was in hysterics when she returned from the room to the lobby.Bryant, who was in Colorado for knee surgery at a Vail clinic, surrendered to authorities on July 4 and was released after posting $25,000 bond.Emotional strainsClose friends and authorities have quietly acknowledged that the 19-year-old Eagle woman who accused Bryant of sexual assault has endured emotional upheavals and sought medical care for her difficulties.The recent death of her best friend in a traffic accident and breakup with a boyfriend have been tough, but she has brought up well, close friends said.The Eagle Police Department on Friday refused in writing to turn over dispatch reports about any calls to the young woman’s home. A town official acknowledged there were two and the acting police chief said he had compiled a report on those calls for the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office.The reports that the paper seeks regard calls to the home of a non-criminal nature. The Daily filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the information and plans to pursue court action this week over authorities’ refusal to release them.Waiting on testsThe district attorney is awaiting analysis of physical evidence, including DNA samples, sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He said he will announce his decision about prosecution after receiving the CBI’s report on that evidence.Both Bryant and the young woman checked into area hospitals for examination. A CBI official said samples in any alleged crime of violence could include exchange of hairs and fibers, or bodily fluids, though authorities declined to specify the samples in this case.A sideshow for the moment is an apparent rift between Sheriff Joe Hoy and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. Both leaders are in their first year of serving in their positions. Hoy, previously a road patrol deputy and DARE program officer, was elected last November. Hurlbert, an assistant district attorney, was promoted by governor’s appointment last December.In the first week of investigation, Hurlbert assured Bryant’s attorneys that no action would be taken until after the Fourth of July weekend. But the sheriff arranged for Bryant to turn himself in on the Fourth of July to the Eagle County jail to be booked without formal charges and released on $25,000 bond. The arrest was kept quiet until the Sheriff’s Office faxed the media Sunday night, stunning the district attorney.Since Sunday, Eagle County has been deluged with reporters from across the nation. By midweek, officers had to be dispatched to clear the media from the front lawn of the young woman’s family home.The sheriff has defended his move to arrest one of the nation’s best known personalities before the DA had reviewed the case, insisting the evidence was compelling enough to convince a visiting judge from Clear Creek County to agree to issue an arrest warrant and seal the case files.The district attorney is the authority who decides whether to file charges and which charges, if any, to file. The sheriff’s move is widely viewed in the law enforcement and legal community as rare in this type of case, but within his bounds.The effect was to put Eagle County under the news media spotlight before a decision was reached on whether to charge Bryant with a crime.The sheriff and DA appeared as a united front last Monday for a news conference covered live by some national and regional news shows, the day after the news broke of Bryant’s arrest. But late last week county officials said they fielded an inquiry about legal representation if the Sheriff’s Office were to set up a “show-cause” court hearing, apparently in an attempt to nudge the DA into filing charges against Bryant.No such hearing has actually been requested, and the sheriff Friday denied contemplating such an action.The district attorney says the investigation is continuing.Amy Ramunno, The Associated Press and Mark Bricklin contributed to this report.