Sex crimes specialist added to team

DENVER -- The team of prosecutors working on the sexual
assault case against NBA star Kobe Bryant is growing.

The Jefferson County district attorney has agreed to let Dana
Easter help his counterpart in Eagle County work on the case.
Easter, a former nurse, specializes in crimes against children and
sex crimes.

Legal experts said prosecutors were apparently gearing up for a
court fight against Bryant's experienced defense team, Hal Haddon
and Pamela Mackey.

"They're not surrendering, in fact, they're looking for
reinforcements," Denver defense attorney Scott Robinson said
Tuesday. "I don't think it's fair to see this as anything but an
indication that the prosecution isn't going to go down without a

Easter, 48, worked as a nurse for several years before joining
the Jefferson County district attorney's office in the late 1980s,
spokeswoman Pam Russell said. She was a founding member of a team
made up to ensure consistency in handling sexual assault cases.

Easter also helped develop a standardized way of collecting rape
evidence and works on the state's Ending Violence Against Women
project, which trains law enforcement officers, victims' advocates
and prosecutors in handling sex assault and domestic violence

"She's very capable, very personable and quite frankly very
realistic about analyzing charges prior to trial," Robinson said.
"It's an enormous coup for (District Attorney) Mark Hurlbert."

Bryant, 25, is accused of raping a 19-year-old worker at the
Eagle County hotel where he stayed June 30. The Los Angeles Lakers
guard has said the sex was consensual.

Free on $25,000 bond, Bryant faces four years to life in prison
or 20 years to life on probation if convicted. No trial date has
been set.

Hurlbert's spokeswoman, Krista Flannigan, said he and Jefferson
County District Attorney Dave Thomas are still working out how much
Easter will be able to help, but she said Easter will not be a
full-time addition to Hurlbert's team.

In late July, Boulder County prosecutor Ingrid Bakke, another
widely respected expert on sex crimes, began working full-time on
the Bryant case. She and Easter have worked together extensively,
Russell said.

Former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser said Hurlbert and his
deputy, Greg Crittenden, have to keep up with other cases.

"The workload is too great for any one person," said
Steinhauser, a visiting professor at the University of Denver
School of Law. "When you consider the fact that no one really has
the luxury from the prosecutor side of just being able to work on
just one case -- you also have to keep up with all the other cases
on your docket -- you've got to get more help."