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Lakers Star Kobe Bryant Denies Sexual Assault Allegations


Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant say he is innocent of a charge of sexual assault filed against him Friday in Colorado. The 24-year-old superstar denied the allegation in remarks before reporters Friday evening.

Kobe Bryant admitted to having sex with his 19-year-old accuser and said he was "embarrassed and ashamed for committing adultery," but insisted he is not guilty of a crime.

"I'm innocent. I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent," he insisted.

Bryant's wife, Vanessa, sat beside him at Staple Center, the scene of some of his triumphs on the basketball court, as he and his lawyers denied the allegations.

Earlier Friday, a Colorado prosecutor filed one count of sexual assault against the Lakers player, stemming from an incident at an exclusive resort near the town of Vail, where he was scheduled to undergo knee surgery. The alleged assault occurred June 30, and Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert says he spent two weeks reviewing testimony and physical evidence. The alleged victim was a young woman who worked at the resort.

Bryant is free on bail, but the prosecutor says he could face a prison term if convicted.

"Penalties on this class three felony are that if it's a prison term, it's from four years to life imprisonment. If it's a probation term, it's from 20 years to life," he said.

Bryant's lawyer Pamela Mackey says authorities rushed to judgment, but the prosecutor insists he can prove that Bryant is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," the standard for conviction.

Bryant's lawyer says she is confident that a jury will find in his favor.

"Kobe Bryant will plead not guilty," she said. " He will request that this case be tried to a Colorado jury. His defense is that what happened on June 30 in Eagle County was a sexual encounter between two consenting adults."

Bryant is due in court in August 6.