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Judge won't limit questioning of Bryant accuser

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

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EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- The judge in Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case Tuesday reaffirmed his earlier decision not to limit the scope of questioning about the sexual history of the woman who says the NBA star raped her.

The alleged victim -- who was scheduled to answer such questions Tuesday -- will now appear at a closed evidentiary hearing March 24-25, in which 5th Judicial District Judge W. Terry Ruckriegle will allow the defense to query her about her sexual past. Her friends will also testify at that hearing.

Normally, under Colorado's rape shield law, testimony about the alleged victim's sexual history is not allowed, but Ruckriegle decided to permit it so he can decide if the information is relevant to the case.

The prosecution has strongly objected, and appealed to Ruckriegle when he first announced his decision Monday. After a closed-door session that afternoon with attorneys for both sides, the judge said he would reconsider his order. Tuesday he reaffirmed it.

Also Tuesday, the attorney for the alleged victim said that defense claims that his client had sex with another partner soon after the alleged assault are "patently false."

"The claims that the victim in this case had any sexual contact with anyone within 15 hours after being assaulted by Mr. Bryant are patently false," attorney John Clune said in a written statement. "Anyone trying to prove otherwise will be chasing ghosts."

In a court filing Monday, attorneys for Bryant asked that evidence be admitted into the trial that showed "that the accuser engaged in sexual intercourse within the two days preceding and within less than 15 hours following her encounter with Mr. Bryant."

"Given the timing and the nature of the accuser's sexual activity following her encounter with Mr. Bryant, all of this activity is now relevant to test and rebut the prosecution experts' opinions regarding the supposed trauma and (post traumatic stress disorder) allegedly suffered by the accuser," the defense filing said.

The document also said the defense had evidence that the woman had sex with two witnesses for the prosecution.

The filing came in the course of two days of pretrial hearings in the sexual assault case against Bryant, 25.

Clune's reaction to it -- and other, unspecified actions -- prompted court officials Tuesday to ask Ruckriegle to clarify the application of the gag order in the case, according to Colorado State Court spokeswoman Karen Salaz.

The judge is also expected to issue a written order sometime after next week on whether the woman's medical and mental health history may be admitted as evidence in the trial. The prosecution says the records are irrelevant to the case; the defense charges the accuser is mentally unstable and has fabricated the claims against Bryant.

Clune said his client has faith in Ruckriegle.

"The victim has confidence that the judge in this case will appropriately resolve these 'rape shield' issues and that the focus of this trial will remain on the conduct of the defendant," the attorney's statement said.

Also discussed in Tuesday's closed session was a defense request to not admit into evidence statements Bryant made to investigators shortly after the alleged assault and before he was placed under arrest.

Monday, a Los Angeles police officer who was working as a bodyguard for Bryant during his questioning by police testified he never heard police tell the athlete that he was under arrest.

Bryant's attorneys want to exclude a recording police surreptitiously made of the interview from being heard at trial, saying their client should have been read his rights before it was made.

Prosecutors contend that Bryant had not been arrested or even detained at the time and, therefore, they were not required to read him his rights.

Bryant, a star guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, admitted having sex with the 19-year-old woman at the lodge where he was staying last June, but said it was consensual.

Also Monday, Ruckriegle ordered prosecutors to turn over two pairs of underwear belonging to the accuser -- one of them worn the night of the alleged attack and the other on the day afterward, when she filed the complaint.

Defense attorneys Hal Haddon and Pamela Mackey want to carry out their own tests on the garments, which they say will prove the woman had sex with other men around the same time.

Bryant could be sentenced to four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if a jury convicts him of felony sexual assault.

CNN's Gary Tuchman and Mike Phelan contributed to this story.

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