First day of testimony in Bryant#039;s hearing is graphic

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2003

The 19-year-old woman was raped after agreeing to go to Bryant's suite at the resort where she worked, Eagle County Sheriff's Detective Doug Winters testified Thursday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether Bryant will stand trial.

Winters described in graphic detail for a packed courtroom how, according to the woman, an exciting, chance meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar led to a nightmarish assault that left her shaken and in tears.

She said she told Bryant ''no'' at least twice and he ignored her, pulling her dress up and her underwear down and raping her from behind.

Email newsletter signup

At one point, the woman told police, Bryant forced her to face him and say ''no'' when he asked if she was going to tell anyone. After the attack, Bryant made her kiss his penis, Winters said the woman told investigators.

Bryant, 25, has insisted the sex was consensual. He sat at the defense table staring straight at Winters for much of the hearing, hands folded in front of him. Bryant occasionally clenched his jaw, but showed little other reaction.

Though the testimony was graphic, the most explosive statement came from Bryant's own defense attorney when she suggested under cross examination that the woman's injuries would also be ''consistent with a person who has had sex with three different men in three days.''

That led an angry Judge Frederick Gannett to empty the courtroom and summon the lawyers to his chambers. Gannett was also upset earlier when defense attorney Pamela Mackey said the woman's name six times when asking questions.

She apologized, saying she would write herself a big note not to say it.

''Or I could get you a big muzzle,'' Gannett said.

The hearing - expected to last only an afternoon - was finally adjourned after more than six hours, an indication the trial could be long and laborious for both sides. Gannett said it would continue next Wednesday, and the district attorney's office said Bryant had to appear.

Winters, the only witness of the afternoon, recounted what the woman told him in an hourlong interview the day after she met Bryant at the resort. It all began with a tour of the hotel on June 30 that led to some flirting. She went back to Bryant's room and showed him a tattoo on her ankle, then turned down his request to join him in the hot tub, Winters said.

Her shift at the front desk was ending and she wanted to go home, he said, and ''she was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable.''

Winters said she stood up to leave and Bryant gave her a hug that led to some consensual kissing, Winters said.

But when she turned to go, Bryant grabbed her by the neck, pulled up her black dress and raped her against a chair, Winters said. She told investigators she said ''no'' at least twice, before bursting into tears as the five-minute attack went on.