EAGLE, Colo. -- With his accuser's family looking on, Kobe Bryant made his first appearance before the judge who will preside over his sexual assault trial yesterday and put off a formal plea.
The parents of the 19-year-old woman were in the courtroom for the brief procedural hearing, along with two brothers and a cousin, prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said.
It was the first time the family members have attended a court hearing in the case -- and the first time they have seen the National Basketball Association star in person, she said. The family left the courthouse without speaking with reporters.
During the 12-minute hearing, Judge Terry Ruckriegle set a pretrial hearing for Dec. 19 and another for Jan. 23 to settle various motions, including whether records from a rape crisis center should be given to the defense.
The defense waived Bryant's rights to be advised of the sexual assault charge against him and the penalty he faces if convicted -- four years to life in prison and 20 years to life on probation. Bryant's $25,000 bail was left unchanged.
Attorneys on both sides told the judge they expected a trial to last two to three weeks. The judge said his staff would begin looking at potential dates. Prosecutors and court officials had not expected Bryant to enter a plea until his arraignment, which has not been scheduled. After a formal plea, state law requires the trial must be scheduled within six months unless Bryant waives his right to a speedy trial.
Bryant is accused of raping the woman on June 30 at a mountain resort near Edwards where she worked and he was a guest. Bryant, 25, said the two had consensual sex.
Before the hearing began, about a dozen people rallied outside the courthouse in support of Bryant's accuser. "We are here to remind everyone to treat this sexual assault case as a serious crime that it is rather than as fodder for entertainment," said Robin Finegan, a board member of a victims' assistance group.