Court Stakes High For Kobe

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant enters the Justice Center in Eagle, Colo, in this Oct. 9, 2003 file photo. Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett announced Monday, Oct. 20, 2003 that Kobe Bryant would be ordered to stand trial for sexual assault. AP

Kobe Bryant's first appearance today in Eagle, Colorado before the trial judge in his rape case lasted approximately 12 minutes, and Bryant didn't say a word.

The judge set no trial date, but scheduled a hearing for next month, making clear a plea-bargain is not an option for the NBA star.

The court appearance marked the first time the family of Bryant's accuser saw him in person.

Because of Colorado's strict laws against sex offenders, Bryant's professional and personal future is on the line.

"I've fully advised my client of the charges against him and the possible penalties," defense attorney Pamela Mackey told the judge.

That's why Bryant's defense team is fighting so fiercely in Colorado — going after information on his accuser's medical and sexual histories. If Bryant is to have a future on the basketball court, he must win an outright acquittal, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker.

Colorado's sex offender penalties are perhaps the toughest in the country.

If convicted of sexual assault, Bryant faces possible life in prison or lifetime probation with either: constant supervision; group therapy with sex offenders including pedophiles; regular polygraphs; and no unsupervised contact with children — even his own.

The state even uses a machine called a plethysmograph, which monitors a man's genital response to sexual stimulus.

"That deviant arousal will be present in that person now and forever. We don't change it," says Mervin Davies, a sex offender treatment provider.

Many sex offenders refute the idea that rehabilitation is impossible.

"Even murderers don't have life therapy," says one convicted sex offender, a man who requested to remain anonymous.

He was convicted under circumstances like those alleged in Bryant's -- consensual sex, turned rape -- and calls Colorado's laws harsh and the plethysmograph, inhumane.

"You feel raped," he told Whitaker. "I definitely felt like all of my humanity has been taken away from me."

For Bryant, even pleading to a lesser charge would require him to register as a sex offender.

Attorneys have differing opinions about the requirements of Colorado's laws.

"It casts way too wide a net," says criminal defense attorney Daniel Recht. "The new sex offender laws in Colorado are incredibly strict, incredibly onerous."

Others disagree.

"If they have forced sexual intercourse on a person by means of physical force or physical violence, it's really hard for me to feel sorry for what they have to go through in terms of the sentencing process," says former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser.

The message then to Bryant is that the stakes in his trial couldn't be higher.
  • Lauren Johnston

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