Bryant may be waiting on charges

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2003

EAGLE, Colo. (AP) -- It may take another week before Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant knows if criminal charges will be filed against him.

Little information was given Monday by prosecutors about the case against the 24-year-old NBA star who is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a resort near Vail. But Bryant's lawyer, Pamela Mackey, said her client ''expects to be completely exonerated.''

According to an arrest warrant, Bryant attacked a woman June 30. Authorities said only that it happened at a hotel. Officials at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in nearby Edwards said Bryant stayed there June 30-July 2.

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Under Colorado law, sexual assault could range from fondling to rape.

Bryant surrendered to authorities Friday and was released after posting $25,000 bond. Mackey said her client had been in Colorado for surgery on his right knee at Vail's Steadman Hawkins Clinic.

The accusations against one of the NBA's biggest stars made headlines nationwide and stunned the sports world. Dozens of reporters and camera crews descended on this mountain town about 100 miles west of Denver.

Since entering the NBA straight from high school, Bryant has drawn comparisons to the league's greatest players. He was married in 2001 and became a father earlier this year.

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said he is reviewing the merits of the case submitted by the sheriff's office and could make a decision on whether to file charges against Bryant within the next week.

''Sometimes it takes a while to get through everything,'' Hurlbert said Monday. ''It may be beyond the end of the week.''

He said Bryant might not be charged at all, but refused to discuss details of the allegations against the five-time NBA All-Star.

Mackey accused the sheriff's office of ''complete bias,'' saying it ignored the wishes of the district attorney in obtaining the arrest warrant.

''We were told that the matter was under consideration by the district attorney's office but that there was insufficient information to issue a warrant or to file charges,'' she said in a statement.

Mackey did not return calls seeking elaboration.

At Monday's news conference, Hurlbert refused to address Mackey's claims.

''What's done is done,'' said Hurlbert, standing a few feet away from Sheriff Joe Hoy, whose office is leading the investigation. ''I'm not going to comment on whether it was prudent or not. A judge found probable cause.''

The sheriff's office sought the arrest warrant from a judge instead of making the request through the district attorney, which is the usual practice. Only the district attorney's office can file charges.

Hoy said his investigators learned of the case July 1 and spent nearly 30 hours on the case before contacting Bryant. Defense attorneys were notified on July 3 and Bryant returned to Colorado the next day, sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Andree said.

''There wasn't any urgency. We felt we were doing the right thing for everyone involved,'' Hoy said. ''We wanted to give people the time to themselves to adjust'' because of the holiday.

Hurlbert said he talked to the woman, who ''seems to be doing OK considering the circumstances.''

The case against Bryant unfolded as details of two other NBA players' legal troubles were released.

Orlando Magic guard Darrell Armstrong was arrested after being accused of fighting with a female police officer outside a Florida nightclub, and Portland Trail Blazers' Damon Stoudamire was accused of trying to pass through an airport metal detector with marijuana.