Wednesday , Sep , 01 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Prosecutors dismiss charges against Kobe

Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert
announced on Wednesday that sexual assault charges against Los Angeles Lakers
guard Kobe Bryant have been dismissed.

“The decision was made after several meetings with the victim, her family and
her attorney,” said Hurlbert, who made the announcement during an evening
press conference.

“The victim has told us that she does not want to proceed with this trial. And
for this reason, and this reason only, I am dismissing this case.”

The charges are reportedly being dropped with prejudice, meaning that the
charges cannot be refiled at a later date.

The surprising decision by the D.A. comes just five days before the trial was
set to begin. Since last Friday, the prosecutors and defense team have been
interviewing possible jury members.

“Today justice is sadly interrupted,” added Hurlbert.

The alleged victim in the case was not willing to testify when the trial
began. However, she did file a civil suit on August 10 against Bryant that is
apparently still on track. In a civil suit, the alleged victim doesn’t have to
testify.

“This decision is not made because the lack of believably in the victim,”
said Hurlbert.

Bryant, 26, was being accused of sexually assaulting a then 19-year-old woman
more than a year ago while in Colorado for surgery on his right knee. If he
was convicted of the Class 3 felony, Bryant, who was forced to play virtually
all of last season while traveling between Colorado and Los Angeles, could
have faced penalties ranging from four years to life in prison or 20 years to
life on probation.

Earlier this week, defense attorneys asked for the charges to be dropped,
citing that the prosecution did not disclose evidence from a forensics expert
that could have proven Bryant was innocent.

According to ABC News, the evidence was from a former New York City medical
examiner, who reviewed the evidence and said that the injuries suffered by the
alleged victim during the alleged incident could have been caused by
consensual sex.

Bryant said all along that he was only guilty of adultery, admitting to having
sexual relations with the woman. Bryant is married and has one child with his
wife.

LAL