Prosecutors lay out case against Kobe Bryant
Prosecutors Thursday said Kobe Bryant held his alleged victim by the throat, bent her over a chair in his hotel suite and raped her. But the NBA star’s attorney questioned whether the young woman suffered any injuries from Bryant that night.
Bryant appeared in Eagle County Court Thursday, where prosecutors and an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office investigator laid out their case against him. They hope to convince Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett that it is probable a sexual assault occurred and that Bryant did it. If Gannett agrees, Bryant’s case will be sent along to District Court for trial.
But Thursday’s preliminary hearing ended without a decision and with more work to be done. Gannett ordered everyone back to court at 9 a.m., Wednesday, to finish Bryant’s preliminary hearing.
Deputy District Attorney Gregg Crittenden and Eagle County Sheriff’s Detective Doug Winters – the lead detective in the case – laid out the story told by Bryant’s alleged victim. And among the evidence they presented was one of Bryant’s T-shirts, found in his hotel room and stained with the alleged victim’s blood.
But no part of the story or evidence went unchallenged by Bryant’s defense attorney, Pamela Mackey. In her cross examination, her line of questioning was designed to cast doubt on each piece of the prosecution’s evidence and those presenting it.
What’s the evidence
According to testimony from Winters, Bryant and his entourage arrived at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera near Edwards at about 10 p.m., June 30. Bryant’s alleged victim had made their reservations earlier that day, through a travel agent. Bryant was checked in under the name “Javier Rodriguez.”
When Bryant and his two bodyguards arrived, his alleged victim, who was a concierge at the hotel, took him and his bodyguards straight to Bryant’s room without stopping at the front desk, Winters said.
As they were on their way to Bryant’s room, Bryant quietly asked the alleged victim if she could return to his room later to give him a tour of the property, Winters said.
“He asked it quietly, like he didn’t want the other people to hear him,” said Winters.
The following continues Winters’ testimony of the events, according to his interview with the alleged victim:
The young woman returned to the front desk to pick up the keys for Bryant’s bodyguards’ rooms. Once she had shown them to their rooms in a different part of the hotel, she took a back way to return to Bryant’s room, and they started their tour.
When it was completed, he asked her to show him back to his room. He asked her inside, and she went. Once inside, she made conversation about where the bears would approach the ground floor windows of Bryant’s suite and other small talk. She sat on a couch and Bryant sat on a chair adjacent to the couch. She had come equipped with a marker and hotel envelope, hoping for an autograph.
Bryant told her he didn’t want to do it right then, but wanted her to come back About 11 p.m., they stood up and she started to leave. He asked her for a hug and she agreed.
According to Winters’ testimony, the alleged victim said that’s when Bryant started kissing her on the mouth and neck, and groping her breast and buttocks. After a couple minutes of this, he tried to put his hands under her dress to rub her vagina, Winters said.
Winters said that’s when she told Bryant she didn’t want to and tried to leave. When she backed up, Bryant grabbed her neck with both hands, Winters said. Winters also testified the young woman said she was afraid Bryant would try to choke her. Winters said she could breathe and that Bryant was trying to control her.
“He knew she wanted to leave, because she said she kept moving toward the door,” said Winters. “When she moved, he’d move in that direction.”
“Clear and concise’
After groping her, Winters said Bryant turned the woman around toward some chairs. She said he had his hands on her throat the entire time and was still controlling her movements, Winters said.
With two hands still around her neck, he bent her over the chair, freed up one hand to pull up her dress and pulled down her underwear, Winters said.
“She stated during the interview that she indicated to him that she wanted to leave,” said Winters. “She said “No’ to him. She said “No’ when he lifted up her skirt.
“It was clear and concise,” said Winters of the alleged victim’s tone and volume. “I didn’t have any trouble understanding her. You could clearly hear her.”
Winters said that’s when Bryant, “proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her.”
Winters testified the alleged victim said she was in Bryant’s room about five minutes. Winters said that while Bryant was having intercourse with her, Bryant “leaned forward and said he liked Vail, Colorado.”
Winter said the alleged victim testified that Bryant finally stopped when she pried his hands from around her throat. She turned around, pulled up her underwear and faced him, Winters said.
“He asked if she was going to say anything about it, and she said “No,'” said Winters.
Bryant told her to fix her hair and straighten her clothes. Winters said she had been crying.
Again, Winters said, Bryant asked her if she was going to tell anyone and again, she said “No.”
She returned to the front desk, completed some bookkeeping chores done late in her shift, and told the bellman she was ready to leave. When they reached the parking lot, the bellman asked her if she was OK, and she told him what had happened.
During Mackey’s cross examination, Winters said he had not seen any bruising on the alleged victim’s throat. He said the first bruising he had seen was in a photograph provided by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, who collect evidence from alleged rape victims and suspects.
Mackey said the only bruise on the alleged victim was on her left jaw and it was about half the size of a penny.
Under cross examination, Mackey also pointed out the alleged victim’s vaginal injuries did not need stitches or even a topical ointment. According to the nurses’ reports, the only medications the alleged victim received were for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
But Winters said that according to the nurses’ reports and photos, the injuries were not consistent with consensual sex, but with penetrating sexual trauma.