Iowa man charged with threatening to kill Kobe Bryant accuser

Updated: August 22, 2003, 10:21 PM ET

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa student was charged with threatening to kill the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of sexual assault.

John William Roche, 22, was arrested Thursday afternoon for allegedly leaving a profanity-laced message on the accuser's answering machine July 27, according to a federal grand jury indictment.

Roche is charged with making a threatening telephone call across state lines. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The caller threatened to assault the Eagle, Colo., woman with a coat hanger and repeatedly said he would kill her, the indictment said. Authorities did not say how the call was traced to Roche.

A friend, Elliot Schwind, described Roche as a "sports fanatic" who had been drinking all day at a golf tournament when he allegedly made the call.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver, confirmed Bryant's accuser was the target but declined to comment further.

Roche appeared in federal court in Rock Island, Ill., late Thursday where he posted bond and was released, Dorschner said. He was ordered to appear Sept. 2 in U.S. District Court in Denver.

Bryant, 24, is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old resort employee near Vail, Colo., on June 30. The Los Angeles Lakers star has said the sex was consensual.

Bryant's case has drawn widespread attention, including fan Web sites devoted to the case, some disclosing the identity of Bryant's accuser. The judge handling the case has said some letters sent to authorities about the case have included death threats.

In Eagle, the accuser's father has called police twice in the past three weeks to report suspicious incidents, according to police records reviewed Friday.

In one, a police report said family members left two dogs at home the morning of Aug. 14. When they returned about an hour later, the more aggressive dog was locked in an upstairs bathroom, apparently by an intruder. Nothing was missing and there were no signs of forced entry, according to the police report.

On July 30, police records show, the woman's father said a man stopped at the house and offered to wash the windows. When the father refused, the man left without stopping at any nearby homes, police were told.

Both police reports said the father wanted the incidents on the record on the advice of his attorney.

Meanwhile, Bryant's attorney on Friday denied rumors of plea bargain negotiations and said she intended to take the sexual assault case to trial.

Pamela Mackey said that since Thursday she had been deluged with calls from reporters inquiring about a purported $5 million settlement offer to Bryant's accuser.

"It's just patently false," Mackey told The Associated Press. "Someone has made it up. There's just no way we're going to settle this case."

Prosecutor spokeswoman Krista Flannigan declined comment on the Bryant case but said such negotiations in general would be premature until a defendant entered a plea.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index