A Mom's Plea To Kobe Judge

image AP

Backed by a heartfelt plea from her mother, the 19-year-old woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape asked the judge Thursday to set a trial date so she can stop trying to outrun the media and perhaps put an end to the death threats she's endured over the past nine months.

"Her life is on hold and her safety is in jeopardy until this case is over," the woman's mother wrote in a letter accompanying a court filing seeking "swift resolution" of the pretrial proceedings.

The woman's attorney, John Clune, said the woman has received "literally hundreds of phone calls and e-mails threatening either death or mutilation."

"None of these consequences will end until after this case goes to trial," Clune wrote. He said prosecutors have no objection to setting a trial date.

Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said she could not comment and Clune declined further comment when reached by telephone.

The request came as Bryant and attorneys in the case held closed-door arguments over what evidence will be admitted at trial. Among other things, the defense wants details of the woman's sex life admitted to back up their claim she might have been injured during sex with someone else the week of her encounter with Bryant.

Kobe Bryant left his two-day hearing with plans to return to Colorado next month, reports CBS News Correspondent Jennifer Miller.

The woman herself testified for more than three hours Wednesday on . It was the first time she has faced Bryant since the alleged attack last June at the Vail-area resort where she worked.

Matt Herr, a former boyfriend of the 19-year-old woman, testified behind closed doors for about an hour. Defense attorneys and prosecutors then returned to the courtroom with a sheriff's detective who was one of the first to question Bryant last summer.

Bryant has said the two had consensual sex. If convicted of felony sexual assault, the 25-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

Clune's statement and the letter are one first glimpses into the woman's life since she leveled the rape accusation last summer. Most media organizations have not disclosed her identity, but her name and image have been plastered across the Internet and supermarket tabloids for months.

Three men have been arrested and charged with making death threats against her.

In the letter, the woman's mother told the judge her daughter has lived in four states in the past six months and that she and her husband are constantly worried about her safety.

She had sharp criticism of the media for forcing her daughter to literally live on the run.

"She can't live at home, she can't live with relatives, she can't go to school or talk to her friends," she wrote. "Even the defendant is able to continue living in his home and continue with his employment."

"My daughter has plans for her future. She wants to continue her education," she wrote. "I am asking that the court do whatever possible to bring this case to trial as soon as possible."

Pretrial hearings are tentatively scheduled into mid-May.

"The problem with the emotional request is that it isn't likely to tell the judge anything he doesn't already know or provoke him into setting a trial date any earlier than he otherwise had planned to," says CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

"Colorado law gives victims the somewhat ethereal "right" to be "assured" that "the court, the prosecutor and other law enforcement officials will take appropriate action to achieve a swift and fair resolution of proceedings." But this language doesn't have nearly the same force of law as does the defendant's "speedy trial" rights under state and constitutional law," says Cohen.

"All Judge Ruckriegle has to do to respond to the request is to tell the alleged victim that he is doing the best he can given his responsibility to be fair to all of the parties involved in the case, including the young man who could spend a lifetime in prison if convicted," Cohen says.

Clune said his client respects the judge's obligation to be fair, but said the strain is increasing as more time passes. "Her daily concern is `When will the media or defense investigators find me and where will I go then?"' Clune wrote.

Former Denver prosecutor Norm Early said the case has moved unusually slowly, making life more difficult for the woman.

"If this is dragged out for 12 to 18 months, this woman would fall apart," he said.

Added Cynthia Stone of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault: "She is doing her best to regain her privacy and control over her life."

Inside the courthouse, defense attorneys continued their bid to have details of the woman's sex life admitted as evidence at the NBA star's trial. A former boyfriend, Matt Herr, testified behind closed doors for about an hour.

More witnesses could be called during an April 26-28 hearing.

The defense insists the woman's sexual history is relevant because it could show her injuries were caused by another sex partner and that she had a "scheme" to have sex with Bryant and others, possibly to gain the attention of an ex-boyfriend.

Colorado's rape-shield law generally bars defense attorneys from bringing up an alleged victim's sexual history. Judges, however, can hear such testimony in private to determine whether the information is relevant and admissible as evidence.

Several witnesses also testified Thursday to help determine whether Bryant's statements to authorities will be admitted at trial along with physical evidence including a T-shirt stained with the accuser's blood. The defense says authorities violated court guidelines for gathering evidence and secretly taped Bryant's comments.

Bryant's statement to authorities, made the day after the alleged attack, has not been released.

During a hearing last month, defense attorney Hal Haddon said the law calls for hair, fibers and similar evidence to be obtained during daylight. Bryant's hospital exam was performed before dawn on July 2, little more than 24 hours after the alleged assault.

Haddon said the physical evidence and Bryant's statement should be off-limits because his client was being questioned without having been read his rights.

Eagle County sheriff's Detective Doug Winters has admitted he signed a document indicating Bryant had been officially detained. But he said Bryant was cooperative and understood he was free to leave at any time.
  • Lauren Johnston

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