Woman in Bryant case must be referred by name or as ‘person’
Eagle, CO (Sports Network) – District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said Tuesday
that people in the courtroom will be banned from using the term “victim” to
describe the young woman who is accusing Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant
of sexual assault.
Ruckriegle agreed with Bryant’s lawyers that the term implies a state of guilt
and would not be acceptable. He said that the woman must now be referred to by
her name, or in jury instructions, where she must be spoken of as a “person.”
The judge, however, did not agree with the prosecutors that the word is a
legal label that grants the woman certain privileges and state-funded services
guaranteed to victims of crime.
Bryant’s defense attorneys suggested that calling the 19-year-old woman a
victim would hinder the jurors’ ability to make an impartial decision. Haddon
said that the neutral terms “complaining witness” and “alleged victim” would
be more appropriate.
The 25-year-old Bryant is accused of sexually assaulting a woman last June 30
at a Colorado resort, a Class 3 felony with penalties ranging from four years
to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.
Bryant, who was in Colorado for surgery on his right knee at the time of the
alleged assault, claimed the two had consensual sex.
The All-Star guard was in court last Thursday for pre-trial hearings, although
a trial date has still not been set. During the hearings, Ruckriegle heard
arguments from Bryant’s attorneys asking to have a co-worker and a former
boyfriend of the alleged victim submit DNA samples in an effort to prove she
lied about her sexual history.
Ruckriegle has still not ruled whether the woman’s sexual history will even be
admitted into evidence.
The defense has insisted throughout that the accuser had sex with someone else
less than 15 hours after her alleged assault by Bryant, and that injuries
found on the woman’s body could have been caused by sexual partners before her
encounter with Bryant.
The woman’s attorney has denied that she had sex with anyone before her