Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Kobe Bryant

Sep 1, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Criminal sexual assault charges against Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant were thrown out Wednesday by a judge in Eagle, Colo., at the request of the prosecutor.

District Judge Terry Ruckriegle dismissed the case with prejudice, which means the criminal charges cannot be re-filed.

The prosecutor, who had been in final jury selection, said he asked for the dismissal after the alleged victim said she did not want to testify. Opening statements were scheduled to begin next week.

Mr. Bryant still must face a federal civil lawsuit filed Aug. 10 by his accuser that seeks at least $75,000 in compensatory damages, with punitive damages also possible.

Mr. Bryant is one of the best-known stars in professional basketball. The case has already cost him a huge amount of money in lost commercial endorsements. He is also considered a major television draw. Mr. Bryant recently signed a new contract to remain with the Lakers following the trade of center Shaquille O’Neal to Miami.

ABC News, whose parent company has rights to NBA basketball games, declined to comment. Mark Shapiro, executive VP of programming and production for ESPN, told TelevisionWeek: “It must be refreshing for the league that this cloud is no longer hanging over one of their marquee players for the time being.”

Mr. Bryant, 26, was accused of raping the 19-year-old Colorado woman in June 2003 at the resort hotel where she worked. He admitted having sex but insisted it was consensual. If convicted of felony sexual assault, Mr. Bryant could have gone to prison for 20 years to life and faced a fine up to $750,000.

The case has drawn widespread coverage and has been the subject of numerous talk and news shows. It has also been marked by a series of mistakes by the court and prosecution and arguments over evidence.