- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

EAGLE, Colo. — Kobe Bryant’s defense team can ask the 19-year-old woman accusing the basketball star of rape detailed questions about her sexual past when she makes her first appearance in court, the judge ruled yesterday.

The decision raises the likelihood of a long day for the woman when she testifies behind closed doors today. It will be the first time she will be in the same room with Bryant since the supposed attack at a mountain resort last summer.

The defense subpoenaed the woman to testify, saying Bryant has a right to confront his accuser. The move prompted complaints from the prosecution and women’s advocates that the defense is simply trying to “embarrass” and “humiliate” her.

State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, however, rejected a prosecution bid to limit defense questioning as he determines whether the woman’s sexual conduct is relevant to the case and can be used against her at trial.

Bryant, 25, has said the two had consensual sex. The Los Angeles Lakers star faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted of the felony sexual assault charge.

The woman has told police she had sex with someone two days before the supposed attack, while the defense has said she slept with “multiple” partners that week — including someone less than 15 hours after her encounter with Bryant.

The defense says the woman had a “plan” to sleep with Bryant to attract the attention of an ex-boyfriend. Bryants attorneys also say injuries found during a hospital examination of the woman could have been caused by other sexual partners.

Legal experts said they don’t believe defense attorneys Hal Haddon and Pamela Mackey will be allowed to hound the woman about all her sexual experiences.

“The judge will still protect the alleged victim,” former prosecutor Craig Silverman said. “And there’s nothing preventing prosecutors from standing up and objecting when questions are asked.”

The prosecution lost another battle when the judge ordered them to give the defense cuttings from two pairs of underwear worn by the accuser.

In a new filing by Bryant’s attorneys made public yesterday, Mackey reiterated her contention that the woman had “multiple acts of sexual intercourse” in the three days before her July1 hospital exam and that she had another sexual partner the morning after her encounter with Bryant. She also said the woman had sex with two unidentified prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors said the defense based its arguments on rumor and innuendo.

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