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Bryant hearing delayed on media issue

Judge rejects prosecution's request for leak probe

Kobe Bryant, left, listens as his attorney Hal Haddon, standing, addresses Judge Terry Ruckriegle during a pretrial hearing.
Kobe Bryant, left, listens as his attorney Hal Haddon, standing, addresses Judge Terry Ruckriegle during a pretrial hearing.

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Kobe Bryant

EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- A preliminary hearing in the sexual assault case against NBA star Kobe Bryant got bogged down Friday over a discussion about whether to allow media inside the courtroom when prosecutors and defense attorneys wrangle over his accuser's medical records.

Bryant, his lawyers, the prosecution and attorneys for the woman spent the afternoon session in a closed-door meeting with the judge debating the media presence for a defense motion seeking the release of her medical and health records.

An attorney for the young woman said she "has done her best to avoid TV appearances or interviews," as has her family, and that the media should be excluded from the courtroom when her medical records are discussed.

Judge Terry Ruckriegle has said he will not rule on that issue until the next pre-trial hearing, set for January 23, but asked that both sides file written reports by January 9.

The court session ended shortly after 6 p.m. (8 p.m. ET).

Earlier, the judge rejected the prosecution's request to investigate possible leaks to the media in the case. Ruckriegle said he did not have the authority to grant such a request.

Bryant is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel worker in late June in his room at a luxurious resort in Eagle, Colorado.

Defense attorneys say the woman who accused Bryant, 25, is a troubled, attention-seeking teen who twice tried to commit suicide to elicit sympathy from her ex-boyfriend.

The young woman's father was in the courtroom Friday, sitting a few rows behind Bryant and his lawyers.

Other motions under consideration include defense requests for Colorado's rape shield law to be lifted for this case, plus a prosecution motion to keep private any discussions about false rape accusations the woman may have made in the past.

Kobe Bryant leaves a Colorado courtroom Friday with lawyer Pamela Mackey.
Kobe Bryant leaves a Colorado courtroom Friday with lawyer Pamela Mackey.

In court documents filed this month, the defense said the accuser's behavior is relevant to the case and should be admissible in trial because it shows her "motive, scheme, plan and modus operandi for falsely accusing Mr. Bryant."

Bryant acknowledges having sex with the woman but contends that it was consensual.

The defense's court filing said circumstances surrounding the accuser's two alleged suicide attempts are "strikingly similar to what happened after the accuser had sexual intercourse with Mr. Bryant."

"Proof that the accuser makes herself a victim through purported suicide attempts in order to gain the attention of her ex-boyfriend without regard to the harm and worry that it causes to other people is essential to the defense's theory that the accuser made false allegations in this case," the defense motion said.

The defense also argued that Colorado's rape shield law should not apply because Bryant has been accused of injuring the accuser during the assault, and the defense contends the injury could have occurred when the woman had sex before or after the encounter with Bryant.

The case is not expected to go to trial until spring. If convicted, Bryant could be sentenced to four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

In his court filings, prosecutor Hurlbert argued that "medical and mental health information and related details are not relevant," asking the judge to determine "what information, if any, the court finds relevant."

The prosecution also asked for a measurement of Bryant's hand span, accusing the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star of trying to strangle the woman and forcing her "to bend over a chair."

"The defendant was behind the victim and held her in position with one hand around her throat," a prosecution filing said.

A document also alleged that after Bryant made an obscene statement, he "tightened his hold on her neck. She said at times he was 'squeezing pretty tight.' She described his hands as big, 'bigger than usual.' She further stated that the defendant's one hand 'could almost circle my whole neck.' "

The defense also said the accuser recently had taken an anti-psychotic medication, approved by the FDA for treating schizophrenia. Because of the medication, the defense said, the woman "may have a reduced ability to correctly and accurately perceive and relate events."

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