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Wednesday, July 9
Woman accuses Bryant of sexual misconduct news services

Kobe Bryant

EAGLE, Colo. -- The 19-year-old Colorado woman who accused Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant of sexual assault will come home from a family vacation to what Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy described as "mind-boggling" media attention.

Hoy confirmed the woman's age Tuesday and said she was on vacation with her family, but is expected to return this week.

Hoy said he was concerned about the pressure on the woman and frustrated that there was more attention on Bryant than on her.

"To me, the sad part is if this hadn't been who it involved, this wouldn't even be a blip on anyone's radar screen," he said. "Personally, I think they're focusing on our suspect rather than on the victim."

Hoy also said investigators have sent unspecified evidence to the state Bureau of Investigation for analysis, but refused to discuss other details of the case. A bureau official would only say the work has begun.

Prosecutors Monday said they needed more time before deciding whether to bring charges against Bryant, 24, who is accused of assaulting the woman at a resort near Vail last week.

"Sexual assault cases are extremely complex and sometimes it takes awhile to get through everything," Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Monday. "It may be beyond the end of the week."

He refused to discuss details of the allegations against the five-time NBA All-Star. Hurlbert said the alleged victim was "doing OK, considering the circumstances."

Under Colorado law, sexual assault could range from fondling to rape.

Bryant's lawyer said Bryant "expects to be completely exonerated," and accused the sheriff's office of rushing the case.

Bryant turned himself in to authorities Friday, the sheriff's office said. The married father of a baby girl was released that day after posting $25,000 bond.

Officials at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, a gated resort in Edwards, said Bryant stayed there June 30-July 2.

The Cordillera is a sprawling resort that shares heavily forested land above the town of Edwards with large private homes. The spa boasts a golf course, pools and a large equestrian center that stand in sharp contrast to the working-class roots of the town.

Sitting outside an Edwards shopping center, Niko Potts, 40, said he had heard of the case.

"If he's some major sports star, they always get the short end of the stick,'' said Potts, a hairdresser who lives in Edwards. "They're targets. I don't think he's the kind of guy who needs to go around molesting people."

Bryant's attorney has said he was in Colorado for surgery on his right knee at Vail's Steadman Hawkins Clinic. No other details were released by authorities, and the case has been sealed by a judge.

The sheriff's office said Bryant has been cooperative.

Bryant's attorneys accused the sheriff's office of "complete bias" and said it ignored the wishes of the district attorney in obtaining the arrest warrant.

"Contrary to the direct instruction of the district attorney's office, the Eagle County sheriff's office sought and obtained an arrest warrant ... this action illustrates the complete bias of the sheriff's office," said Denver attorney Pamela Mackey in a statement released earlier Monday.

Mackey did not immediately return a call seeking elaboration.

At Monday's news conference, Hurlbert refused to address Mackey's claims.

"What's done is done," said Hurlbert, standing a few feet away from Sheriff Joe Hoy, whose office is leading the investigation. "I'm not going to comment on whether it was prudent or not. A judge found probable cause."

Hoy said his investigators learned of the case July 1 and spent nearly 30 hours on the case before contacting Bryant. Defense attorneys were notified on July 3 and Bryant returned to Colorado the next day, sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Andree said.

"There wasn't any urgency. We felt we were doing the right thing for everyone involved," Hoy said. "We wanted to give people the time to themselves to adjust" because of the July Fourth holiday.

Attempts to reach Bryant were not successful, and his whereabouts were not known.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the allegations against his All-Star guard were completely out of character.

"For the seven years he's been with us, he has been one of the finest young men we've known and a wonderful asset to both our team and our community," he said. An NBA spokesman declined comment.

Nike would not comment on Bryant's case.

"We're pleased to work with Kobe Bryant as he is a great player," Nike spokesman Nigel Powell told "But since this is a legal matter, we cannot comment at this time."

Bryant recently signed a five-year endorsement deal with Nike believed to be worth more than $8 million per year.

After concluding it had enough evidence for a felony sexual assault charge, the sheriff's office sought the arrest warrant directly from a judge. In Colorado, police and sheriff's deputies can arrest someone on suspicion of a crime but only the district attorney's office can file charges.

Hurlbert said he was aware of the case, but didn't know why authorities didn't request a warrant through his office. Kim Andree, spokeswoman for the sheriff, said it is not unusual for authorities to go directly to a judge and she dismissed speculation of a rift between prosecutors and the sheriff's office.

Bryant married Vanessa Laine in April 2001. The two met on the set of a music video where Laine was working, and got engaged while she was still in high school. Vanessa gave birth to their first child, Natalia Diamante Bryant, in January.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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