Lakers' star accused of sexual assault in ColoradoPosted: Sunday July 06, 2003 8:23 PM
Updated: Monday July 07, 2003 1:04 PM
The 24-year-old Bryant was released after turning himself in Friday and posting a $25,000 bond on suspicion of felony sexual assault, the Eagle County sheriff's office said Sunday.
Bryant was not formally charged. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Sunday night he hadn't made a decision on whether to file charges and had not yet seen the arrest report.
"Kobe is innocent," Bryant's Denver-based lawyer, Pamela Mackey, told the Los Angeles Times in Monday editions. "Can you imagine being accused of this? It's awful."
The woman, who was not identified, told sheriff's deputies on Tuesday that Bryant sexually assaulted her the previous night in a hotel in the Edwards area. No other details were released about the case, which has been sealed by a judge.
The Denver Post reported Monday that Paul Pastoor, general manager for the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, said Bryant stayed at the Edwards hotel. Bryant, who was not available for comment, was in the area to have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic.
After a series of interviews and a review of the physical evidence, investigators met with representatives of the district attorney and concluded they had enough evidence for the felony sexual assault count, the sheriff's office said.
Hurlbert said the sheriff's office asked a judge for an arrest warrant instead of requesting one through his office, the usual practice. In Colorado, police officers can make an arrest on suspicion of a crime but only the district attorney's office can file charges.
"It's very distressing that the sheriff's office, who is supposed to be conducting the unbiased investigation, ignores what the district attorney says and goes out and gets a warrant," Mackey said. "It's outrageous."
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league had no immediate comment.
"These allegations are completely out of character of the Kobe Bryant we know," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "For the seven years he's been with us, he has been one of the finest young men we've known and a wonderful asset to both our team and our community.
"However, since this is a legal matter being handled by the authorities in Colorado, we must refrain from further comment at this time."
Since entering the NBA straight from high school, Bryant has drawn comparisons to the league's greatest players. Despite early struggles, Bryant quickly established that he deserved the hype.
He was a star when Los Angeles won three consecutive titles from 2000-02 and was the Most Valuable Player of the 2002 All-Star game.
Bryant was the NBA's second-leading scorer last season, averaging a career-best 30 points and signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike last month.
He married Vanessa Laine in April 2001. The two met on the set of a music video where Laine was working and were engaged while she was still in high school.
Laine gave birth to their first child, Natalia Diamante Bryant,
in January. Bryant wore his hospital ID bracelet in a game the day
after his daughter was born.