USA: NBA SUPERSTAR KOBE BRYANT TO APPEAR IN COURT IN PRE-TRIAL HEARING ON SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGES.
- Title: USA: NBA SUPERSTAR KOBE BRYANT TO APPEAR IN COURT IN PRE-TRIAL HEARING ON SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGES.
- Date: 6th August 2003
- Summary: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) KOBE BRYANT ARRIVING AT 2003 TEEN CHOICE AWARDS
- Reuters ID: LVA5ZTMLSI50EEDYT5OAIH17SKG9
- Location: LOS ANGELES,CALIFORNIA, EAGLE,COLORADO AND WASHINGTON, DC.
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:08
- Topics: General,People,Sports
- Story Text: NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant appears in court tomorrow
in a pre-trial hearing on sexual abuse charges.
On the eve of basketball star Kobe Bryant's first court
appearance on rape charges, media hype and debate among
fans are reaching a fever pitch. The hearing will take
place August 6 in Eagle County, Colorado where the alleged
rape took place. Bryant is accused of raping a 19-year-old
woman at an upscale hotel. He has admitted having
sual sex with the woman, but denies the sexual
assault took place. Bryant's legal troubles are
particularly big news in his hometown of Los Angeles, where
he is a hero on the legendary Lakers team. The potential
rape charges haven't stopped Bryant from making public
appearances in the city - a decision that has proved
controversial. He and his wife attended the Teen Choice
Awards where he was selected as Favorite Male Athlete.
With all of the fame and fortune on the line, local sports
radio personality Chuck Madden predicts a media circus at
the courthouse. "It is absolutely huge," Madden says.
"Some people are comparing... this is going to rival the
O.J. Simpson case, and I don't have to tell you how big
that was." The O.J. Simpson case gripped the media in the
United States during the entire course of the former
football star's trial in 1995. Simpson was eventually
acquitted, but he remains a reviled figure.
Fans of the 24-year-old Bryant, meantime, are sharply
divided. "He's Kobe Bryant. I'm sure he has twenty women
lined up outside of every hotel room door he's ever stayed
in. It just doesn't seem like he's be driven to any sort
of desperation where he's need to commit an act like rape,"
one woman argues. "I think it's awful," another fan says.
"A lot of kids I know looked up to him, like my 11-year old
son. To me, it's so difficult, having to explain to my son
what he actually did." Supporters of Bryant have launched
online efforts to support the Lakers star, including one
web site called freekobe.com. The web sites are forums for
debate and speculation, as well as a source for fans to buy
"Free Kobe" t-shirts.
The Bryant case has also sparked debate alleged rape
victims' rights and the definition of rape. A local Los
Angeles talk show host named Bryant's accuser, setting off
a storm of controversy. Rape counselors and mental health
experts were outraged by the exposure of the young Colorado
woman, saying that a victim of sexual assault would be
further traumatized by public scrutiny. News organizations
have not named the woman or shown her picture, but her
name, address, telephone number, and picture have surfaced
on the internet. The talk show host defended his decision
to name the woman, arguing it is unfair to name Bryant and
not his accuser.
Bryant is charged with Class 3 sexual assault, the
equivalent of rape under Colorado law. Bryant checked into
the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Colorado on June 30.
Prosecutors say the assault happened later that night and
that the woman reported it the next day. Published reports
have said that Bryant flew home to California on July 2
after submitting to an interview by Eagle, Colorado
sheriff's detectives and providing DNA samples. Colorado's
deputy attorney general said that prosecutors across the
state were offering to assist Eagle County with manpower
and resources in the sensational case. Eagle County
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has met with prosecutors
from several jurisdictions and the attorney general's
office, who all offered assistance in the case that has
drawn worldwide interest.
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