EAGLE, Colo. -- Kobe Bryant's attorneys say in a new court
filing that statements he made to investigators after he was
accused of rape last summer shouldn't be released to the media
because it is not yet certain they will be used in his trial.
In a filing made public Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers star's lawyers
opposed a news media request to release Bryant's statements and
testimony about those statements.
In separate filings, prosecutors said they intend to introduce
the statements at the trial but took no position on whether they
should be released beforehand.
Attorneys for 12 news organizations asked District Judge Terry
Ruckriegle last week to release the statements Bryant made during a
roughly 75-minute interview with two Eagle County sheriff's
deputies on July 1, 2003, the night after the alleged assault.
One of the deputies captured the interview with a tape recorder
in his shirt pocket.
The defense sought to bar the recording as evidence, but
Ruckriegle ruled in July that some of Bryant's statements could be
used at trial.
During the interview, Bryant explained why he thought his
encounter with the woman was consensual, and became upset and
occasionally cried, Ruckriegle said in his ruling. He said Bryant
did not become "truly upset" until detectives told him they had a
warrant to seize evidence and force him to submit to a hospital
Attorneys for the news organizations said information that has
been publicly released about the interview suggested Bryant did not
say anything incriminating. That suggested that the defense wanted
to keep the statement secret to protect Bryant from embarrassment,
which they argued was not a valid reason to keep the evidence
The player, who turns 26 Monday, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He
faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on
probation, and a fine of up to $750,000, if convicted. Jury
selection is scheduled to begin Aug. 27.
Bryant's lawyers said that news organizations have no right to view
or publish potential evidence until it is admitted at trial and
that Bryant's privacy and fair-trial rights outweigh the media's
First Amendment rights of access to criminal justice records.
The news organizations involved in the request are The
Associated Press, ABC, CNN, CBS, the Vail Daily, The Denver Post,
Fox News Channel, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles
Times, NBC, The New York Times and USA Today.