Tempers flare over alleged victim’s information
Emotions ran hot Monday as the the alleged victim’s attorney, one of Kobe Bryant’s defense attorneys and the judge all crossed swords.
What began as a dustup grew into a fireworks show.
In the midst of death threats, phone calls and e-mail harassment, her attorney said the last thing Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim needed was to see her name on the court Web site.
Or for the details of a private hearing to be mistakenly sent to seven media outlets.
That, said attorney John Clune, is why he wants the court to stop distributing public information electronically.
In a terse exchange between Clune and District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, the judge pointed out that the case’s mountain of paperwork now fills 34 volumes of files with 571 pleadings. Of those, two mistakes have released the alleged victim’s name, and information about testimony about her sexual activity.
Clune said the alleged victim “expected what the defense has done and the media has done,” but the only time she wavered from moving forward with the case was when the court, the District Attorney’s Office and the hospital, all charged with protecting her, instead let information about her out.
Clune said the alleged victim was getting two to three calls a minute for five to six weeks, some complimentary, but many were disturbing.
“They were dealing with this every day,” said Clune. “Some sounded capable of carrying out such a threat, and finding the means to do it.”
When Ruckriegle seemed to think Clune was angling for a ruling favoring the alleged victim, and using the court’s mistaken e-mail to get there, the judge jumped in.
“You should know better,” warned Ruckriegle, criticizing Clune for not having made it an issue earlier.
But Clune stood his ground. “Your remarks are not well received,” said Clune.
“No one else has been harmed by these mistakes, not the prosecutors, not the court and not the media,” said Clune. “It’s an honest mistake, but it’s very difficult to explain that to a 20-year-old girl and her parents.”
Clune said have the situation undermined this victim’s trust in the criminal justice system.
Bryant’s defense co-counsel Harold Haddon was up like a shot.
“This can’t be about problems with the Web site,” said Haddon. “This may well be about Mr. Clune’s opportunity to make a ringing speech about victims’ rights. This is a transparent and truly outrageous attempt to influence the court.
“I cannot summon words strong enough to demonstrate how we feel about the impropriety of this motion.”
Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault stemming from an incident June 30, 2003, at a mountain resort. He has said he had consensual sex with his accuser, who was 19 at the time.