US sports star set to hear rape charge

The US media is gearing up to cover basketball star Kobe Bryant’s court appearance to hear rape charges levelled against him on Wednesday.

    Bryant (R) is the Laker's leading scorer

    The 24-year-old Los Angeles Laker has denied attacking a 19-year-old woman who worked as a concierge at a posh resort he was staying in late June. He says the relations were consensual and his only wrongdoing was adultery.

    Bryant is expected to be in court about 10 minutes for what is called an advisement hearing under Colorado law and is similar to an arraignment. The formal charges will be read and a date will be set for a preliminary hearing in which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to put him on trial.

    The judge of Eagle County, the small mountain town where the hearing will be made, refused last week to excuse Bryant from the hearing. He ruled on Monday that television cameras would be allowed in the courtroom.

    The judge may also discuss a request by Bryant’s attorneys to sanction prosecutors. Defence lawyers believe authorities leaked details about the case to news organisations.

    The judge has issued a so-called gag order in the case to prevent lawyers from talking to the media.


    It is not clear whether the charges
    will affect Bryant's career

    Bryant is charged with a Class 3 felony sexual assault, the equivalent of rape under Colorado law. If convicted, he could face a sentence of between four years and life in prison.

    Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has said he believes he can prove Bryant’s guilt. The small district which covers mountain counties is getting help from prosecutors from other parts of the state.

    Mainstream media have not disclosed the alleged victim’s identity but she has been named by a national talk-radio host and on the Internet. Her friends have appeared on national television programmes to describe her mood following the attack.

    She will not be present in court during Bryant’s hearing.

    Bryant is already paying the price for the criminal charges. On Monday the company that makes Nutella Hazelnut spread said that it was dropping its endorsement deal with Bryant.


    SOURCE: Agencies


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