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Law

Bryant, accuser face each other in courtroom

Judge to rule on details of alleged victim's sexual past


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Bryant and defense attorney Pamela Mackey leave court after Wednesday's proceedings.

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CNN's Gary Tuchman reports on Kobe Bryant and his accuser facing each other in court.
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Colorado
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Kobe Bryant

EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- The 19-year-old woman who accuses NBA star Kobe Bryant of raping her answered questions about her sexual past for 3 hours Wednesday in a closed-door pretrial hearing in the Eagle County courthouse.

The proceeding was the first time Bryant and the alleged victim have been in the same room since the alleged assault June 30.

The purpose of the two-day hearing is to help Colorado District Judge W. Terry Ruckriegle decide if the woman's sexual past is relevant to the case and can be introduced in the trial against Bryant.

Normally, Colorado's rape shield law protects alleged rape victims from having to reveal their sexual history. But Ruckriegle decided to allow the pretrial questioning in a closed session, and the Colorado Supreme Court refused the prosecutor's request to limit defense questioning.

The door to the courtroom was briefly left open Wednesday as the alleged victim, dressed in a business suit, entered. She went immediately to the witness stand to begin her testimony.

The woman looked in Bryant's direction, and Bryant briefly looked in hers.

After her testimony, she rejoined her parents, who waited for her on a bench in the hallway of the courthouse.

Her testimony was followed by that of her friends. Their testimony will continue Thursday and if time permits, the court will address a defense motion to suppress evidence.

Before the session got under way, legal experts predicted the questions would be extremely graphic.

"This is going to be very X-rated stuff," said Craig Silverman, a former Denver deputy district attorney.

Larry Pozner, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, said it would be "a lot of hard-core questions asked in a soft voice."

The prosecution has contended the questioning is intended to intimidate the woman.

Bryant's attorneys have indicated in court documents that they plan to introduce evidence about the woman's alleged sexual activity shortly after she accused Bryant of raping her in order to cast doubt on her credibility. The defense also said it has evidence she had sex with two prosecution witnesses. Bryant's attorneys have suggested that another sexual partner caused the woman's injuries.

But the woman's attorney, John Clune, has said the claims that she had sex within 15 hours after the alleged assault are "patently false."

The defense charges that Bryant's accuser is mentally unstable and fabricated the charge against him.

Bryant, 25, is charged with sexually assaulting the woman at a lodge near Eagle, Colorado, last June. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he had consensual sex with the woman. If convicted, the Los Angeles Lakers star could face four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

Bryant traveled to Los Angeles, California, in time to play in a much-anticipated game against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers are competing for a playoff position with 12 regular season games remaining.

The Lakers won in a rout, 115-91.

Bryant is required to return Thursday for the second day of the hearing.


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