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DA to make Kobe decision later this week

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

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CNN's Frank Buckley reports the Eagle County, Colorado, district attorney will decide this week if he will file criminal charges against NBA star Kobe Bryant.
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EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- Prosecutors in western Colorado said Monday they have not yet decided whether to file criminal charges against Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant for an alleged sexual assault that police said happened last week.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said his office hopes to make a decision by the end of the week, but said it may take longer.

"It's possible he will be charged with sexual assault," Hurlbert said. "It's possible he won't be charged with anything. It's possible he'll be charged with something different."

Bryant's attorney, Pamela Mackey, issued a statement saying her client "is innocent and expects to be completely exonerated."

The Eagle County Sheriff's Office said it received a report July 1 from a woman who alleged sexual misconduct by Bryant. The incident allegedly happened June 30 in a hotel in the Edwards area, just west of Vail, the sheriff's office said.

Investigators issued an arrest warrant after gathering evidence and consulting with the district attorney, a statement from the sheriff's office said.

Sheriff Joseph Hoy said Bryant, 24, voluntarily complied with the warrant and returned to Colorado from Los Angeles to turn himself in last Friday. Bryant is free on a $25,000 bond.

No details of the victim's allegations have been made public, and a judge has sealed information in the case.

The district attorney did not explain why there was a delay in charging Bryant, other than to say sexual assault cases are complex and take time to investigate.

Mackey said the sheriff ignored the "direct instruction" of the district attorney's office that there was "insufficient information to issue a warrant or to file charges," illustrating his office's "complete bias" in the case.

Hurlbert denied the accusation and said nothing improper or illegal was done.

"I want to look forward and not backwards," he told reporters. "I support the sheriff, the sheriff's office, and their investigators in this investigation."

The district attorney said that under Colorado law neither the victim's name nor any identifying information may be released by authorities.

"I have talked with her and she seems to be doing OK considering the circumstances," Hurlbert said.

Bryant, who is married with a daughter just born in January, stayed at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Edwards from Monday through Wednesday last week, hotel manager Paul Pastoor told CNN. Pastoor declined to say whether the alleged incident occurred there or involved any of his employees.

It was unclear whether Bryant had returned to his Los Angeles area home, and he could not be reached for comment.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said the allegations are "completely out of character" for Bryant.

"For the seven years he's been with us, he has been one of the finest young men we've known and a wonderful asset to both our team and our community," Kupchak said in a statement Sunday night. "However, since this is a legal matter being handled by the authorities in Colorado, we must refrain from further comment at this time."

Kupchak referred all questions to Bryant's lawyers in Colorado.

Two of Bryant's teammates came to his defense.

"That's totally out of his character, but who knows," said Kareem Rush. "I don't think it's true, so I'm going to stand by him and say that it's 100 percent not true."

"He's a happily married man and I'm sure he's happy. He talks about his wife all the time," Jannero Pargo said. "I can't wait for the truth to come out."

A frequent member of the Lakers' traveling party, which accompanies the team on road trips, told CNN that Bryant is known for his straight-laced style. Bryant doesn't entertain groupies and always travels with two bodyguards, who screen visitors and phone calls, said the traveling party member, who did not want his name used.

Instead of going out to party with the team at night, Bryant plays video games in his hotel room and calls his wife, said the source, who believes Bryant refrains from drinking alcohol.

"This (accusation) would be a complete Jekyll and Hyde if this was true," the source said. "This would be shocking if there was any meat to it."

The 6-foot-6-inch Bryant was a member of the 2002 Laker championship team, averaging 26.6 points per game in four games in the NBA finals against the New Jersey Nets. He was selected to the 2001-2002 All-NBA First Team.

Bryant was named MVP of the 2002 All-Star Game after tallying 31 points, five rebounds and five assists.

CNN National Correspondent Frank Buckley contributed to this report.

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