Craig's Court: Let The Not So Civil Games Begin

Posted Sept. 18, 2004

Wow! The Rosh Hashanah release of the secret Kobe Bryant police statement provided lots of new information and insights that may scuttle conventional wisdom that the civil case will soon go away.

This could be the start of a whole new year of litigation for the NBA superstar and his accuser. Sadly, some of these revelations may also be new to Vanessa Bryant and that may also lead to some imminent family court litigation.

In his effort to extricate himself from the Eagle encounter with the cops, Kobe Bryant spoke of a woman named Michelle who meets him frequently in New York for some neck-grabbing intercourse. That cannot be pleasant news at the Bryant breakfast table on the other coast.

Who could have sent this anonymous but accurate CD and transcript to the Vail Daily? Only someone with access. I do not think it was the accuser's attorneys.

Look at all that they likely lost with this publication. Most of Kobe Bryant's incentive to settle was just eliminated. The embarrassing assertions that were previously secret are now the stuff of headlines.

These headlines dramatically increase the likelihood that the civil case will go forward. The public release and distribution of this statement removes a lot of the accuser's leverage. The threat of a criminal trial was previous leverage lost. What now is the threat to Kobe Bryant? Money is no obstacle to this multi-millionaire. Colorado's severe tort reform laws will apply and caps on damages will prevent the kind of humungous monetary award that might be possible and could seriously dent him in another state.

Insofar as the upcoming season and worries about a distraction, remember a few things. Kobe Bryant played pretty great when he was healthy last year. The Lakers are not likely going to contend for a championship this year anyway. Kobe Bryant will not have to be present during all the civil litigation as he was during the criminal case.

However, the thought of Michelle (and possible other paramours) being deposed might be a serious incentive to still pay some hush money. Plaintiffs' attorneys might even attempt to depose Vanessa Bryant about her husband's sexual proclivities. That too suggests some settlement money might still be paid.

Then again, Team Kobe may well feel that it can successfully once again call the accuser's latest bluff. Think about how her alleged mental health and/or substance abuser problems will likely now be deemed relevant to the civil issues of causation and damages. After all, if this young lady was unwilling to testify in September before a jury in her hometown of Eagle, what makes anyone think she will really go forward with testifying someday in front of a Denver civil jury? A cynic might offer the following answer: MOOLAH. In fact, that is what Kobe Bryant suggested as a motive to the Eagle County cops.

While hardly conclusive, Kobe Bryant's recorded statement seems more consistent with being an adulterer than a rapist. There is no smoking gun there. This cheating husband seems genuinely surprised about the accuser's bleeding. Could it be, as Dr. Elizabeth Johnson opined, that sex after Bryant with Mr. X, caused the majority of any heavy bleeding?

It was interesting to learn that Kobe Bryant claims he did not ejaculate. When a detective mentions the possibility of pre-ejaculation, Kobe Bryant seems truly astonished.

    Detective Winters: Did you finish? Bryant: No. Detective Loya: Well there's always pre-ejaculation are you aware of that? Bryant: Are you kidding me? Detective Winters: Well ... Detective Loya: I'm not kidding you, it's, they teach you that in seventh grade sex ed. Bryant: We stopped cold. (Inaudible). Detective Winters: How long did it go for? Bryant: (Inaudible) five minutes maybe.

The detective may not have been aware of Bryant's seventh grade spent in Italy which might not have covered the same sorts of subjects.

So who let this statement out? Was it a cop? Could it be Team Kobe? No way without the permission of Kobe Bryant who would have been unlikely to agree. The ethics of Bryant's lawyers also suggest they were not the source.

Was it somebody at Sports Illustrated? This popular magazine broke some of the details this week and it now seems apparent that the author sucking up to some anti-Kobe source. How else to explain SI's selective use of snippets of the statement designed to make Bryant look bad?

All of this will impact the media's claim for release of the whole criminal file. Lots of cats are out of the bag now and a judge just might open up everything to end this game of frequent strategic leaking. The more we know, the greater chance this civil trial will go ... at least up to the point when the accuser and her attorneys will once again have fateful decisions to make. Stay tuned.

Craig Silverman is a legal analyst for 7NEWS. He has been contributing his thoughts on the Kobe Bryant case and will continue to do so as the civil trial proceeds. He works for the downtown Denver law firm of Silverman and Olivas, P.C., which you can contact through their Web site or by calling (303) 595-0529. You can read Craig's bio here.

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