DENVER -- In a huge victory for Kobe Bryant, the judge in the basketball star's sexual assault case ruled yesterday that details from his accuser's sex life during the week of their encounter can be admitted as evidence at trial.
District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said details of the woman's sexual activities in the three days before her July 1, 2003, hospital examination are relevant to help determine the cause of her injuries and the source of DNA evidence. He also said the credibility of the accuser was a factor.
Colorado's strict rape-shield law, which generally prevents details from the sex life of an alleged assault victim from being admitted as evidence, does not apply to all the information Bryant's lawyers want to introduce, the judge said.
He said he was persuaded by the defense that ''specific instances of sexual activity" and evidence of sex can be offered to bolster their contention that her injuries were not caused by Bryant.
Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said prosecutors would decide how to proceed after reviewing the decision. The woman's attorney, John Clune, declined to comment and defense attorneys did not return a call.
Bryant, 25, faces trial Aug. 27 on a charge of felony sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he had consensual sex last summer with the woman, then a 19-year-old front desk worker at a Vail area resort.
The defense's bid to question the accuser's credibility by bringing up her sex life was considered one of the most important pieces of the upcoming trial.
The defense has suggested that the woman had multiple sexual partners in the days surrounding her June 2003 encounter with Bryant, including sex with someone after the alleged attack and before she contacted authorities. The defense says injuries found on her during a hospital exam could have been caused by someone other than Bryant.
Ruckriegle agreed that the woman's sex life in the 72 hours before the exam was relevant but barred ''any and all other evidence" related to her sex life.
Prosecutors could ask the state Supreme Court to review the decision, said Norm Early, a former Denver district attorney familiar with the case. But he said such a request could suggest that the prosecution thinks the ruling harms its case.
The prosecution still can rely on evidence that includes Bryant's statements to investigators and a T-shirt stained with the woman's blood.
In a separate development, attorneys for the judge said they had asked US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to uphold his order barring media organizations from releasing details from a closed-door hearing that were mistakenly e-mailed by a court reporter.