In a surprising move, National Basketball Association star Kobe Bryant's lawyers have gone ahead with a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to make him stand trial on sexual assault charges.
At the hearing Thursday, Eagle County Sheriff's Detective Doug Winters testified the alleged victim told investigators that Bryant attacked her from behind, then grabbed her by the neck and forced himself on her despite repeated protests. The Los Angeles Lakers' guard has denied raping the woman and said the sex was consensual. He faces a possible prison term of four years to life if convicted. According to Winters, Bryant was given a tour of the posh mountain resort by the woman, who worked at the front desk. Bryant asked her back to his suite, where the woman showed him a tattoo on her back. But she turned down his request to join him in the hot tub and said she wanted to go home.
According to Winters, when she stood up to go, Bryant gave her a hug that led to some consensual kissing. But when she wanted to leave, Bryant allegedly grabbed her by the neck, pulled up her skirt and raped her. She told investigators she told Bryant "no" at least twice, before bursting into tears as the five-minute encounter continued. Winters also testified that during and after the June 30 attack, the young woman said, Bryant kept asking, "You are not going to tell anyone, right?" She said she agreed at one point, because she didn't want him to commit more physical harm to her. He also said a nurse who examined the woman later at a hospital found injuries consistent with a sexual assault. The judge said he would not rule Thursday on whether to proceed to trial. Bryant has the right to go to trial within six months, but he could agree to push that back until later, perhaps after the NBA season ends early next summer.