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Bryant Case Tests Limits of ‘Rape Shield Laws’


— October 21, 2003

As the rape case against basketball star Kobe Bryant proceeds, expect to see the alleged victim’s past on trial too – both inside and outside the courtroom.

A Colorado judge allowed the case to go forward Monday one week after Mr. Bryant’s defense attorneys introduced lurid evidence of the accuser’s other sexual experiences at a preliminary hearing.

Kobe Bryant and his attorney, Pamela Mackey, are continuing his defense after a judge allowed the case to go forward after a preliminary hearing.

Like most states, Colorado has a “rape shield law” that generally protects victims from disclosures about their sexual conduct or reputation before or after an alleged assault. But the Colorado law includes two exceptions: evidence about prior sexual conduct with the defendant and evidence that might show the acts charged were not committed by the defendant.

Now, in the highest-profile criminal prosecution since O.J. Simpson’s trial a decade ago, the balance between a defendant’s right to a fair trial and an accuser’s rights under the rape shield law will be tested.

The Christian Science Monitor has the details here.


As the rape case against basketball star Kobe Bryant proceeds, expect to see the alleged victim’s past on trial too – both inside and outside the courtroom.

A Colorado judge allowed the case to go forward Monday one week after Mr. Bryant’s defense attorneys introduced lurid evidence of the accuser’s other sexual experiences at a preliminary hearing.

Kobe Bryant and his attorney, Pamela Mackey, are continuing his defense after a judge allowed the case to go forward after a preliminary hearing.

Like most states, Colorado has a “rape shield law” that generally protects victims from disclosures about their sexual conduct or reputation before or after an alleged assault. But the Colorado law includes two exceptions: evidence about prior sexual conduct with the defendant and evidence that might show the acts charged were not committed by the defendant.

Now, in the highest-profile criminal prosecution since O.J. Simpson’s trial a decade ago, the balance between a defendant’s right to a fair trial and an accuser’s rights under the rape shield law will be tested.

The Christian Science Monitor has the details here.

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