Thursday , Jul , 31 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe must appear in court

Eagle, CO (Sports Network) – Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will have to appear in court next week for proceedings on charges of alleged sexual assault.

Kobe must appear in court

Bryant, accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a mountain resort on June 30, will make his first court appearance on Wednesday.

“It’s vital for him (to appear),” Judge Fred Gannett told Denver TV station KMGH. “It’s vital for us. It’s where the process begins.”

Gannett ruled against the defense attorney’s request to have Bryant not appear in court.

The All-Star guard is being charged with one count of sexual assault and is free on $25,000 bond. The charge is considered a Class III felony and the penalties range from four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

Bryant, who is married and has an infant daughter, admitted to making the mistake of adultery, but has insisted the sex was consensual.

Judge Gannett is also weighing whether to allow the media access to sealed court documents about the case and said he will not rule on that issue before Bryant appears in court.

Media attorneys say Bryant waived his right to privacy when he declared his innocence at a news conference, but the district attorney and defense lawyers want the records to remain sealed, saying excess publicity could affect the chance of a fair trial and an impartial jury.

Reports from ABC News and a couple of Colorado newspapers late Wednesday night cited unidentified sources as saying Bryant engaged in some consensual sexual activity, but that the intercourse that took place was not consensual.

The report adds that the alleged victim was in Bryant’s room for less than a half hour and that she suffered some physical injuries that Eagle County prosecutors will argue are indicative of sexual assault.

In addition, prosecutors are expected to argue that Bryant attempted to deceive law enforcement officials and that he gave inconsistent statements.

The 24-year-old Bryant was in Colorado for surgery on his right knee at Vail’s Steadman Hawkins Clinic. He was accused of sexually assaulting the woman on June 30 at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in nearby Edwards. The Colorado woman, who worked at the hotel where Bryant checked in, filed a report with Eagle County authorities the following day and the five-time All-Star posted bond on July 4 after turning himself in.