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Prosecutors Unveil Their Kobe Case

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant enters the Justice Center with his attorney Pamela Mackey, right Thursday, Oct. 9, 2003 in Eagle Colo. Bryant is making a court appearance on charges of sexual assault today.
AP
The woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape told police a flirtatious encounter quickly turned ugly when he grabbed her by the neck, bent her over a chair and attacked her from behind, repeatedly asking, "You're not going to tell anyone, right?"

As CBS' Bill Whitaker reports, Thursday's hearing was to determine whether there is enough evidence to go to trial. In laying out their case against Bryant, prosecutors painted a graphic story of sexual assault.

The 19-year-old woman was raped after agreeing to go to Bryant's suite at the resort where she worked, Eagle County Sheriff's Detective Doug Winters testified Thursday.

Winters described in graphic detail for a packed courtroom how, according to the woman, an exciting, chance meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar led to a nightmarish assault that left her shaken and in tears. She said she told Bryant "no" at least twice and he ignored her.

Bryant, 25, has insisted the sex was consensual.

It all began with a tour of the resort on June 30 that led to some flirting. She went back to Bryant's room and showed him a tattoo on her ankle, then turned down his request to join him in the hot tub, Winters said.

Her shift at the front desk was ending and she wanted to go home, he said. "She stated she was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable."

She stood up to leave and Bryant gave her a hug that led to some consensual kissing, Winters said.

When she turned to go, Bryant grabbed her by the neck, pulled up her black dress and raped her against a chair, Winters said. She told investigators she said "no" at least twice, before bursting into tears as the five-minute attack went on.

Bryant wasn't holding her neck so tight she couldn't breathe, Winters said, but enough to control her movement.

"She was afraid that he was going to choke her," he said.

During and after the rape, Winters said, Bryant kept asking, "You're not going to tell anyone, right?" She said she agreed at one point.

"She didn't want him to commit more physical harm to her," Winters said.

The woman said Bryant forced her to kiss his penis after the attack, Winters testified. He said a nurse who examined the woman later at a hospital found injuries consistent with a sexual assault.

The prosecution also presented photographs showing vaginal injuries and one of a bruise on the woman's jaw.

Defense attorney Pamela Mackey suggested Winters had no idea when the bruise occurred. He said a nurse told him it came during the attack.

Afterward, Bryant told the woman to clean up, Winters said. She fixed her hair, wiped her face and left after again promising to remain silent.

She went back to the front desk to finish up her work and finally left the resort with an unidentified bellman, Winters said. She told him what happened and he urged her to report it, later following her home.

Winters said the woman seemed furious when he interviewed her with her parents at their Eagle home.

"I sensed a crackle in her voice," he said. "She stated that he raped her."

As the detective testified, Bryant stared at him stone-faced, occasionally clenching his jaw. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of a felony charge of sexual assault. The judge said he would not rule Thursday on whether to proceed to trial.

Legal experts had expected the defense to waive the hearing and head straight to trial rather than allow prosecutors to lay out their case for the first time — evidence that will be discussed in public for months.

"I think what defense maybe tried to do is send a signal to the potential jurors that they're not afraid of the evidence. They're not afraid of the government's case. It may be embarrassing, but it's not illegal," says CBS Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

Norm Early, a former Denver district attorney, called the evidence "incredibly damning" and said Bryant would surely stand trial. He said he wasn't sure why defense decided to go ahead with the hearing.

Jerry Goldstein, past president of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, also said the hearing may have been the first time the defense learned some details in the case.

"You're going to get bad publicity on one hand but also give up any opportunity to find out the allegations," he said.

Judge Frederick Gannett had rejected defense requests to have the woman testify and to see her medical records.

The hearing began as hundreds of reporters and a handful of spectators gathered outside the courthouse to catch a glimpse of Bryant as he arrived with his lawyers in a caravan of three SUVs. He said nothing to the crowd.

Bryant had to take off a necklace and was checked with metal detectors before walking into the courtroom.

Bryant, free on $25,000 bond, had been ordered to appear in court for a bond hearing even if the preliminary hearing was waived. He left the Hawaii training camp of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Bryant has the right to go to trial within six months, but he could agree to push that back until later, perhaps after the NBA season ends early next summer.