The preliminary hearing in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case came to an abrupt recess when the defense posed a question described by a former prosecutor as a “sleazy” attempt to smear the accuser.
After an Eagle, Co., police detective, described Bryant’s alleged rape of a 19-year-old resort worker, defense attorney Pamela Mackey asked the officer if he had not asked the accuser if her injuries were not “consistent with a person who had sex with three different men in three days?” Judge Frederick Gannett halted the hearing and ordered it to resume next Wednesday. The prosecution has joined the defense in asking the public and news media to be barred.
The Rocky Mountain News reports that former Denver District Attorney w a heated reaction moments later from former Denver District Attorney Norm Early, who is following the case, called Mackey’s question “contemptible, despicable, and sleazy,” adding that, “the only reason they had the preliminary hearing was to smear the victim.” Colorado’s rape shield law says an alleged victim’s prior conduct can’t be brought into an new case.
A Denver Post account reported that Mackey “dropped the bomb,” said Larry Pozner, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Pozner and another expert say that the rape shield law shouldn’t prevent information about what might have caused the accuser’s vaginal lacerations from being admitted in trial. “Even in the preliminary hearing, where everything is tilted toward the prosecution, the defense can show a lot of problems with the woman and her story,” Pozner said.
Mackey, considered one of the most ethical lawyers in Colorado, would not have raised the issue unless she had a good-faith basis for doing so, another lawyer said. Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor, said the testimony buttressed Bryant’s claim that the sex was consensual. “It has helped Kobe Bryant. (The story) is weaker than expected. She said she wanted to leave but then kissed him on the face and neck, and she agreed to it,” Silverman said.