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Report: Incident occurred months before alleged assault news services

The Colorado woman who has accused Kobe Bryant of sexual assault overdosed on pills and was rushed to a hospital two months before the alleged incident with Bryant, one of her close friends told the Orange County Register.

Based on the 19-year-old woman's accusation, Bryant was officially charged with a single count of felony sexual assault Friday. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000. Bryant is scheduled to return to Eagle, Colo., for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 6.

Bryant, 24, said Friday that he was guilty only of committing adultery.

In cases of this nature, the credibility of the accuser -- whose identity is not being revealed -- often becomes an issue. The accuser's friends have been keeping her overdose a secret -- until now, the Register reported.

"I think it was just a cry for help," 18-year-old Lindsey McKinney told the newspaper. McKinney had been living at the accuser's house in May, when the woman allegedly took the pills.

When she learned from the woman's ex-boyfriend that the woman had "overdosed," McKinney rushed to her home and found the woman incoherent, lethargic and seemingly drunk, according to the Register.

"I was scared. She wasn't really talking at all," McKinney told the newspaper. "I was like, 'you need to open your eyes.' "

ESPN has learned that McKinney and the woman had a falling out before the Orange County Register ran its story. ESPN also has learned that the alleged victim and her family have been calling friends and asking them to refrain from commenting on the case.

Some friends of the accuser have told the Register that they believed the overdose was an accident. Not McKinney.

"I don't think it was accidental. I was there," she told the Register.

Bryant's attorneys could not be reached for comment Saturday by the Register.

Tyson Ivie, a former classmate of the accuser's, told the newspaper that the overdose was "a big secret" that friends have been unwilling to talk about until now.

The police dispatch call from the night of the alleged assault is currently sealed from the public by investigators. The woman's father declined comment for the Register's story.

According to the newspaper's report, Bryant's accuser was going through an extremely difficult period in her life at the time of the overdose. She returned home from her freshman year of college to find out her ex-boyfriend had taken up with another woman. Also, around the time of the overdose, close friend Nicole Clements died in a road accident while returning from high school graduation ceremonies.

"It was kind of boom, boom, boom," McKinney told the Register. "I think the things that happened to her in the past had a lot to do with what [she said happened the night of the alleged assault]."

"I know she had been going through a lot, but I know that she wouldn't lie," 19-year-old Eagle resident Ashley Scriver told the newspaper. Scriver also knew about the the overdose.

The Register quoted legal experts as saying the news of the overdose will be a major advantage for Bryant's defense team.

"This is powerful evidence and the answer to the defense's prayers," Robert Pugsley, a criminal law professor at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, said. Pugsley added that this kind of evidence, if exploited by the defense, could be enough to shut down the case before it reaches trial.

"[Defense attorneys are] looking for a way to demonstrate that this woman is hysterical and over-reactive," Pugsley said. "This is literally dynamite evidence, a bonanza for the defense and a landmine for prosecution."

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ESPN's George Smith reports from Eagle County, CO.
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