The accuser told investigators that she had sex about three days before meeting Bryant but no sex between that encounter and her exam. It has been reported that the DNA on the purple panties establishes that the accuser had sexual contact soon after her encounter with Bryant, but prosecutors have filed a document that says cotton cloth can retain semen even after it has been repeatedly "soaked or washed."
This does not explain sperm and semen on the swabs from the woman's body, but SI has learned that besides being a small sample, the DNA from Mr. X consisted of only the portions of sperm that remain after it has degraded over time. "Generally, when degraded sperm is all you see, it means several days have gone by," said Singer.
The responsibility for explaining this and rebutting Johnson's conclusions will likely fall to Dr. Henry Lee, the criminalist who, along with Marc Taylor, worked for the Simpson defense. But in the Bryant case Lee will testify for the prosecution, while Taylor is working for the defense.
What is Lee likely to say? He may make the point, as both DNA experts interviewed by SI did, that the small amount of sperm from Mr. X is inconsistent with a sexual encounter after one with Bryant. Keel and Singer also agree that semen swabbed from her leg could have been deposited there before she met Bryant--"but that presumes she didn't shower during that time," said Keel. Lee is also likely to attack the integrity of the defense's DNA analysis.
Although DNA has dominated the pretrial coverage, "this case could hinge on the blood," Singer says, referring to the fact that the stains on Bryant's T-shirt (and on the purple panties) were the accuser's blood. "Her blood on his T-shirt indicates her injuries were caused or reopened by him." There are two likely causes for vaginal bleeding: menstruation and trauma. Records obtained by SI indicate the accuser's period concluded nine days before her encounter with Bryant. "In cases of acquaintance rape, the presence of blood evidence is a touchdown for prosecutors," says Garrison, who did not have such evidence when he prosecuted Tyson.
Bryant's defense lawyers have attempted to admit evidence of the accuser's sexual history, but the judge has limited that to the 72 hours preceding her rape-kit exam. Garrison points out that all the pretrial publicity about the accuser's sex life may hurt her reputation but could help the state's case. "If she is sexually active," explained Garrison, "she is not going to hurt and bleed if she had consensual sex with Kobe. You only bleed if you don't want it to happen."