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Bryant denial made accuser 'sick to her stomach,' friend says

Coach: Bryant has his full support

Kobe Bryant, with his wife, Vanessa, speaks Friday after being charged with sexual assualt. He denied the accusation.
Kobe Bryant, with his wife, Vanessa, speaks Friday after being charged with sexual assualt. He denied the accusation.

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EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- Hearing NBA all-star Kobe Bryant deny the sexual assault charge filed against him made his accuser "sick to her stomach," a friend of the woman said Monday.

Bryant, an all-star guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, has been charged with one count of sexual assault. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence, and after the charge was announced Friday, he admitted having sex with his 19-year-old accuser but said the encounter was consensual.

"When she saw Kobe speak, she was really disgusted," Rachel Yandle, a friend of the woman, told NBC's "Today" show Monday. "It just made her sick to her stomach, and she couldn't believe he had the nerve to cry and just go by, holding his wife's hand."

Yandle also said Bryant's story has changed.

"At first he did nothing," she said. "He was making it sound like nothing happened. And now he is just saying it was consensual ... And when she saw all that, like I said before, it made her pretty sick to her stomach."

With his wife and attorneys by his side, 24-year-old Bryant on Friday night admitted to adultery but denied assaulting the woman. "You know. I didn't force her (the accuser) to do anything against her will. I'm innocent. You know. I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself. Disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery."

Meanwhile, a woman who briefly dated Bryant six years ago told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Monday that he was "never rough, never aggressive" with her and that the sexual assault allegation is "not in his character."

"I couldn't believe that he could be possibly charged with sexual assault," said Jameika Williams, a law student who dated the NBA star for two months after meeting him in 1997, when she was 19 and he was 18. "That's not the Kobe Bryant I knew."

"He was always a calm, nice person -- a family person."

Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Monday he was saddened by the news of the criminal charge being filed against Bryant and said the star guard deserves the "presumption of innocence" until the matter is settled.

Jackson said the NBA all-star, whom he described as a responsible person, has his full support.

"He has consistently demonstrated responsible behavior to me on and off the basketball court," Jackson said in his statement, which was released by his agent in Chicago.

Friends said Bryant's accuser -- a former high school cheerleader who worked at the hotel where Bryant was staying -- was distraught over the death of a friend and a breakup with her boyfriend in recent months.

But Yandle said the woman is not surprised her past is being questioned. "I think she just knows it is going to be a long process, and that they are going to try to find anything they can to use against her," Yandle said.

She defended her friend's credibility.

"She's not doing this for the attention or the money," Yandle said. "She just wants to see a consequence and for him (Bryant) to be behind bars. She's here for the justice."

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Monday he would not comment on the reports or how they would affect his case. He called the reports "unfortunate."

"I would rather that her privacy be honored and that she be able to remain private," Hurlbert said.

Bryant's accuser is "doing OK," he said. "She's a strong girl. She's holding up pretty well, considering everything."

The woman filed a complaint with the Eagle County Sheriff's Department on July 1, the day after the alleged attack, authorities said. At the time, Bryant was staying at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Edwards, just west of the Vail ski resort. Bryant's accuser worked at the hotel's front desk.

Bryant has helped lead the Lakers to three NBA championships in the seven years since he turned pro out of high school. His role model image has added to his popularity with fans, and fellow players have rallied to his defense.

He is required to appear in court in Colorado on August 6 to hear the charge against him.

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