A full-fledged media circus is expected this afternoon in Eagle, Co., as basektball star Kobe Bryant, 24, appears in court to hear the felony charge of sexual assault filed by a 19-year-old woman who says Bryant raped her at a resort June 30. The Denver Post says broadcast crews have been pitching camp across the street from the courts to cover a hearing that may last little more than a few minutes.
The Post reports that stages for TV reporters have gone up along a strip of grass between the curb and the sidewalk. Some metal, some hammered out of 2-by-4s, all topped with white vinyl tents gleaming in the sun, they run nearly the length of a football field. Behind them, satellite uplink vans fill a 1.5-acre grassy lot.
“We don’t view this as a positive thing coming to town,” said Eagle town manager Willy Powell. “It’s a media frenzy. We didn’t invite it.” For weeks reporters have been scouring this town of 3,700 for information. Says one local resident: “We don’t know anything more about this than anyone. There’s only two people who know what’s going on.”
Because those using the Justice Center for regular business otherwise couldn’t find a place to park, Bob Gallegos, co-founder of a stonework company, volunteered the lot the broadcast crews are using. Gallegos expects to start charging rent. Already, MSNBC, Fox News and others have offered to pay thousands of dollars per day for exclusive use of the property.
Said Gallegos: “Everybody’s out trying to find dirt on this local gal. I think it’s ridiculous. I think they ought to get the hell out of town.”
The Rocky Mountain News says that one reporter from another news organization said his assignment of the day was to explore the possible consequences should Bryant attempt to “buy off” his accuser. (The answer: he could be subject to the class 4 felony charge of witness bribery, good for two to 12 years in prison.)
The Associated Press, not typically given to the overly dramatic, expected to have nine staffers in Eagle today. CBS News anticipated having 10.
All this for a session that the presiding judge has said could last “seconds,” and at which it’s quite possible Bryant might not say a word. “I would think it’s very likely he won’t speak, unless the defense counsel considers it important (for him) to say something,” said Denver criminal defense lawyer Scott Robinson.