Thursday , Jun , 03 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Bryant’s accuser not a “victim”

A ruling handed down Tuesday prohibits Kobe Bryant’s accuser from being called “victim” in court proceedings.

Bryant's accuser not a

Prosecutors argued it is a legal label which guarantees victims of crimes specific privileges and state-funded privileges.

But the judge ruled “its use under these circumstances could improperly suggest that a crime had been committed such that the presumption of innocence might be jeopardized.”

While Ruckriegle acknowledged there exists numerous definitions of “victim” under state law, he decided Bryant’s accuser will be referred to by name or as “person” by participants in the trial.

Only Ruckriegle himself can continue to call her “alleged victim.”

Contended defence lawyer Hal Haddon: “Until Mr. Bryant is acquitted, he is a victim. Or at least, arguably is.”

Bryant, star guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old female resident of Colorado last June 30.

Bryant, 26, officially entered a plea of not guilty May 11, paving the way for a full-blown trial within six months.

Bryant was in Colorado for right-knee surgery at Vail’s Steadman Hawkins Clinic when arrested and charged.

He posted $25,000 US bond upon surrendering to authorities last July 4 before being ordered to stand trial last Oct. 20 following a two-day preliminary hearing.

The plaintiff, an employee of the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera where Bryant stayed, admitted to investigators she flirted with him on a tour of the resort and later in his suite.

Penalties for the class-3 felony range from four years-to-life in prison or 20 years-to-life on probation.

Married with an infant daughter, Bryant publicly admitted adultery yet insisted the sex was consensual.