Judge Terry Ruckriegle asked both sides in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case to submit arguments on whether the 19-year-old accuser can be called a victim. The Denver Post says the order was issued as Bryant returned to Eagle, Co., yesterday, for a three-day hearing on whether to admit as evidence the accuser’s sexual history and Bryant’s statements to investigators.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has taken the position that a crime has been committed and the woman is a victim. Defense attorneys Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon say calling her that is highly prejudicial. “The accuser is not a ‘victim’ because the question of whether a crime has been perpetrated against her is in serious dispute, and is indeed only for a jury to decide,” Haddon said.
Victims’ advocates say a state constitutional amendment presumes a person making allegations of a crime is a true victim. “Victims are victims from the moment of the (reported) offense,” said Eagle attorney Dave Lugert, a former prosecutor who helped write the amendment, which requires police and prosecutors to keep crime victims informed of charging options, court appearances, and plea arrangements.
On another issue, the defense has asked how much, if any, of the woman’s medical treatment has been provided by prosecutors through the victim’s compensation fund. A supermarket tabloid tracked her to an exclusive drug-rehab center in Arizona. “Something like the Meadows in Wickenburg, Ariz., seems like an extraordinary expenditure of victim’s compensation funds,” former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman said.