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Thursday, July 10
 
Report: Kobe submits DNA during hospital visit

ESPN.com news services

EAGLE, Colo. -- Lakers star Kobe Bryant and the 19-year-old woman he is accused of sexually assaulting both went to hospitals after the alleged attack at a mountain resort, but investigators said little about the reasons.

Kobe Bryant
Bryant

Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy told the Vail Daily on Wednesday that the woman underwent tests at a hospital, but he declined to identify the tests or the facility. He said the tests were common practice in sexual assault cases.

Sheriff's deputies took Bryant to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, about 40 miles west of the resort, early on July 2. Bryant voluntarily submitted DNA samples to investigators, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday. Sheriff's detective Doug Winters said Wednesday that Bryant was allowed to leave on his own because he had not been charged. Deputies stayed with the Lakers guard while he was at the hospital to protect the integrity of the evidence, according to the newspaper.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Andree would not say whether deputies or someone else took the woman to a hospital, or whether she drove herself.

Terry O'Brien, a 38-year-old Vail Taxi dispatcher and driver, told the Orange County Register Tuesday that he picked up the star from the emergency room at Valley View Hospital. According to the newspaper, Bryant was with three members of his entourage and flanked by Eagle County sheriff's officers.

Fans launch "Free Kobe" Web site
A pair of sports fans have launched a Web site to take advantage of the Kobe Bryant legal situation, the Rocky Mountain News reported Wednesday.

Californian Jeff Reichman and Boston-area resident David Feingold have created a campaign and a retail store at www.freekobe.com, where they are offering T-shirts, coffee cups and hats.

The two men launched the site Tuesday in response to reports that Bryant, a guard/small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, was arrested in Eagle County on suspicion of sexual assault. Bryant has not yet been formally charged.

"There are not really any superstars to look up to anymore," Reichman, 24, said to the newspaper.

The site's creators, according to the newspaper, say they are seeking to "protect one of the few remaining role models in this tumultuous world of basketball fandom."

"It's not so much that we are huge fans of Kobe, but it's more that we are fans of the idea that there can be a hero, somebody to look up to in professional sports," Reichman said.

The T-shirts and hats sold on the site feature a "Free Kobe" logo and slogans such as, "Because we're running out of heroes."
-- ESPN.com news services

Bryant pulled a towel over his head before diving into the back seat of the cab, O'Brien told the newspaper.

O'Brien was not at work early Wednesday and a telephone listing in his name was disconnected.

Police spokesperson Kim Andree refused to confirm the story, but did say the department uses hospitals in Glenwood Springs and Vail for tests in sexual assault investigations.

O'Brien said he transported Bryant and three men to the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, then drove one of the men back to the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where the man "cleared out" Bryant's belongings. O'Brien said he was paid $372 by Bryant bodyguard Michael Ortiz for the 2½-hour job. The Register did not specify how O'Brien knew Ortiz's identity.

"The whole thing was pretty weird and pretty fishy," O'Brien told the Register. "Bryant was laying in the back seat with a towel over his head, trying not to be seen, while three men were taking care of all the details."

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Tuesday he hoped to have a decision whether to file charges against Bryant by the end of this week.

"I felt confident from the first time I talked to my investigators," Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy said. "I felt we did the right thing."

Hoy confirmed that the allegations against Bryant were made by a 19-year-old Colorado woman who works at the resort. Hoy said the woman has left on vacation with her family.

Hoy also said investigators have sent unspecified evidence to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis. A bureau official said that the work has begun.

Authorities have said they are treating Bryant like any other suspect, though Eagle County sheriff's investigators didn't reveal his arrest until two days after he was released on bail.

Earlier this week, Sheriff Joe Hoy said investigators learned of the assault allegation on July 1 and spent nearly 30 hours on the case before contacting Bryant. Andree has said investigators told Bryant about the arrest warrant last Thursday, and he returned to Colorado the next day to turn himself in and post $25,000 bail.

The arrest wasn't announced until Sunday.

On Tuesday, Hoy said the alleged victim would return home from a family vacation to "mind-boggling" media attention.

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."

Prosecutors Monday said they needed more time before deciding whether to bring charges against Bryant, 24.

"Sexual assault cases are extremely complex and sometimes it takes awhile to get through everything," Hurlbert said Monday.

He refused to discuss details of the allegations against Bryant, a 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 Monday that 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.




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