Craig's Court: Relevant Evidence Or Character Assassination?

Posted Jan. 13, 2004

Is it relevant evidence or character assassination? Or both? That is the decision facing Judge Terry Ruckreigle this winter as he ponders the extensive briefs filed by the prosecution and defense as to whether Kobe Bryant's alleged victim's mental health and sexual history should be heard by the jury.

When you read the extensive new filings by Team Kobe, you can't help but feel a little sorry for his accuser. She is getting hit full blast with a "nut and slut" accusation. The whole world can now read the detailed allegation that she is bi-polar and manic depressive and that this condition gives rise to her likely hyper-sexuality.

Remember that claim of her having sex with three men within 72 hours? It is renewed with a vengeance in the latest pleadings with even more specifics. The insinuation is clear that this woman had sexual intercourse with another man in the 16 hours that elapsed between her sexual encounter with Kobe Bryant and her examination at Valley View hospital.

Remember the yellow panties that she wore on July 1, 2003 for that Valley View examination? Those are the yellow knit underwear with unidentified semen stains (not Kobe Bryant's) that she put on sometime after she got home on June 30 from Cordillera. How did the alleged victim's defenders explain that? They made the farfetched and somewhat disgusting claim that this young woman simply put on soiled underwear.

However, the just released pleadings by Team Kobe claim that she told Eagle cops that the yellow underwear she put on that day were clean. The logical inference is that she had sex with a subsequent man -- especially given her admission that sex 48 hours before Kobe was with a man who wore a condom.

The other big news is that the injury this young woman suffered, small lacerations to her posterior forchette, according to Team Kobe and the expert texts they cite, are commonplace among adolescent women engaging in consensual sexual intercourse. Too many defenders of the prosecution have claimed that this young woman's vagina was ripped when in fact, the evidence I witnessed at the preliminary hearing was completely to the contrary. No trauma of any kind was seen to this 19-year-old's vagina or anus.

This distinction is one of the ways that Team Kobe seeks to distinguish the Harris case so recently decided by the Colorado Supreme Court which limits defense inquiry into recent consensual sexual activities of a rape victim. The Harris case presents a big obstacle to Team Kobe's efforts to pierce Colorado's rape shield law and they try hard to distinguish Kobe Bryant's case.

After getting outplayed last Wednesday by the Nuggets Carmelo Anthony, Bryant tried to distinguish himself against the other new NBA phenom LeBron James in a game this past Monday in L.A. No such luck. In the first half, Bryant threw a big fake which caused a Cleveland Cavalier to fly through the air and land on Kobe's shooting shoulder. The injury was palpable and Bryant will likely not play again 'til after his next Colorado court appearance (Jan. 23). A cynic might suggest that it was another attempt by Bryant to score that went horribly wrong.

Craig Silverman is a legal analyst for 7NEWS. He will be contributing his thoughts on the Kobe Bryant case in the months to come. 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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