- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Kobe Bryant case should not go to trial.

This view is not steeped in legal expertise, just old-fashioned common sense.

Pam Mackey, Bryant’s lead attorney, made this plea to the judge after painting a broader picture of the events that led the prosecution to contend that Bryant sexually assaulted the 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Colorado on June30.

“She is not worthy of your belief,” Mackey told the judge following the second session of the preliminary hearing.

Doug Winters, the Eagle County detective who conducted the interview with the woman, indicated confusion whether the woman ever told Bryant to stop what he was doing during their sexual encounter.

Winters said he asked the woman why she never uttered the word no to Bryant. The detective testified last week that the woman told Bryant no on more than one occasion. This key detail, conveniently enough, came to the woman in a subsequent interview with the detective.

The detective revealed an even more damaging item against the prosecution, notably what he learned from the hotel’s night auditor. The night auditor told the detective that he saw no signs of distress from the woman after she had gone to Bryant’s room and, in fact, said she had completed her work shift.

That is hard to accept, if you accept the prosecution’s position that the woman was victimized by a high-profile NBA player.

Moments after the alleged attack, the woman said nothing to the night auditor, not a word, nothing to indicate a compelling need to leave work early and go home to remove the awfulness of what she claims to have occurred.

Are those the actions of a typical victim?

Bad things happen to people each day.

Do most go about their business as if nothing happened, or do they tell someone and devote their attention to whatever it is?

There were other problems with the woman’s actions, as Bryant’s defense team showed.

In the days before Bryant arrived at the hotel, the woman, a concierge, made an effort to discover his itinerary and stayed late at work that day in order to meet him. With only four of the 56 rooms occupied, she stuck Bryant in a remote area of the hotel and his bodyguards in the opposite direction.

The woman was invited to Bryant’s room while she gave him a tour of the premises and they flirted with each other. Later, she took a peculiar route to his room, using both the employee-only hallways and going outside the resort, and said she expected Bryant to “come on to her” once in his company.

So she went to Bryant’s room, they did what they did, and then, according to the night auditor, she finished her work shift as if everything was hunky-dory.

The case, alas, had problems from the beginning, starting with the woman’s two failed suicide attempts, as they have been characterized in news reports. Two failed suicide attempts do not necessarily undermine the woman’s veracity, but they do foster a sense of uneasiness. Moreover, her alleged perpetrator was Bryant, a milquetoast celebrity if ever there was one until June30, and one who undoubtedly rues the absence of his bodyguards.

There is a tendency to snicker around those highly visible professional athletes who employ bodyguards. Athletes, after all, are often considerably larger than the general population and in peak physical condition. Yet those bodyguards are not retained to protect an athlete from physical harm. They are there to serve as witnesses and shoo away strangers whose intentions are unknown.

We do not know the woman’s intentions, if any.

We do know people act funny around the famous, usually in innocent but odd ways.

Why would an adult burn a couple of hours in a hotel lobby just to get an autograph of a particular athlete or hang outside a stadium entrance just to catch glimpse of athletes boarding a bus? Why does anyone care what the Hollywood crowd wears on Oscar night?

That is just it. Lots of people do care, some more than others, a few in twisted fashion.

It is a weird dynamic.

We still do not know what happened in Bryant’s room on June30.

It is doubtful we ever will know, trial or not.

We do know Mackey, in barely clearing her throat, already has punched a number of holes in the prosecution’s case.

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