DENVER -- Prosecutors in the sex assault case against Kobe
Bryant called newly released details addressing his accuser's sex
life "one-sided" Tuesday, saying they should not be used to judge
the merits of the case against the NBA star.
Some 200 pages from a closed hearing in June were released late
Monday by Judge Terry Ruckriegle under pressure from state courts
and the U.S. Supreme Court. The documents mistakenly e-mailed to
The Associated Press and six other news organizations in June were
released after the media won a First Amendment fight that went to
the nation's high court.
The documents include testimony from a DNA expert for the
defense, Elizabeth Johnson, who says she is convinced the accuser
had sex with someone after Bryant and before she contacted
authorities -- a claim the woman's attorney, John Clune, has
vehemently denied. She cites DNA evidence found during hospital
The defense wants to use the expert's testimony to back its
claim the woman's injuries could have been caused during sex with
someone other than the Los Angeles Lakers star.
Prosecutors have suggested the woman put on unwashed underwear
before going to the hospital, transferring semen from a man
identified only as "Mr. X" to her body, where it was found during
a rape-kit examination.
Johnson said she didn't think that was likely because none of
that semen was found on Bryant during his exam, suggesting the
encounter with the other man happened afterward. The defense also
plans to have a Colorado Bureau of Investigations expert testify on
"It is one-sided information, and we hope that people will keep
that in mind. That's what the trial is for," prosecution
spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said.
There was no testimony in the documents from a prosecution
expert on the issue.
But in a court filing made public Tuesday, prosecutors indicated
they may present their own DNA expert who would testify semen
stains on cotton can persist long after washing. Flannigan said she
could not provide more details on the expert's background.
Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault,
saying he had consensual sex with the woman, now 20, at a Vail-area
resort last summer. If convicted, he faces four years to life in
prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000.
The judge has said the defense can present evidence about the
woman's sexual activities in the three days before a July 1, 2003,
hospital exam, saying it is relevant to help determine the cause of
her injuries, the source of DNA evidence and her credibility.
Legal analysts were divided on what impact the new information
Larry Pozner, past president of the National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers, said a jury may not believe the alleged
victim's testimony if she had sex before contacting authorities.
"If the jury concludes she had sex after Kobe, and that she
lied to the investigators, that is such a blow that I don't know
that the case recovers. If this was all that the defense has, they
have enough," he said.
Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor who has handled numerous
rape cases, disagreed.
"It [the released information] only shows the defense expert,"
she said. "It doesn't show other explanations for this evidence,
which creates unfairness.
Steinhauser said not all alleged rape victims react the same
way; some do not want to be touched for months, others go into
denial and pretend nothing happened. She said defense attacks on
the character of the accuser could backfire, and make a jury
sympathetic to her.
Clune did not return calls seeking comment.
Bryant's trial begins Aug. 27.
Separately Tuesday, the state Commission on Judicial Performance
recommended voters in November retain the Bryant case judge -- but
noted he scored slightly below his peer group overall and below the
overall average for demeanor.
The commission said it met with Ruckriegle and he "acknowledged
these concerns and presented specific actions he planned to take to
improve his ratings."
Ruckriegle and Bryant's attorneys did not return phone calls.
Scott Robinson, a defense attorney who has attended the Bryant
hearings, said Ruckriegle has been a tough judge. "The truth of
the matter is that Judge Ruckriegle does not suffer fools
lightly," he said. "It's not unusual for lawyers who make inane
arguments or show up for court late to get reamed."