EAGLE, Colo. -- A month before the judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case cleared the way for the accuser's sex life to be used as evidence, prosecutors told him that sort of ruling would force them to reevaluate their chances of winning a conviction, transcripts of a closed court hearing revealed yesterday.
District Judge Terry Ruckriegle decided in late July to allow the NBA star's defense team to introduce details about the accuser's sexual activities during the week of her encounter with Bryant to help determine the source of her injuries, DNA evidence, and her credibility.
He rejected a defense request to dismiss evidence that includes Bryant's tape-recorded statements to investigators and a T-shirt stained with the accuser's blood.
He has not yet ruled on a prosecution request to limit testimony about the woman's mental health, including what friends described as two suicide attempts.
Prosecutor Ingrid Bakke told the judge in June that the prosecution's case could be damaged if one or more of those decisions favored the defense. Transcripts from the closed June 21-22 hearings on Colorado rape-shield law and other issues were mistakenly e-mailed by a court reporter to the Associated Press and six other news organizations, which battled Ruckriegle in court to publish the contents. Late yesterday, he reluctantly agreed to release lightly edited copies of the documents.
"If in fact you were to rule that all of the rape-shield evidence were going to come in in this case, I'm thinking the prosecution is going to sit down and reevaluate the quality of its case and its chances of a successful prosecution," Bakke said.
"That ruling, the ruling on the mental health issues, and the suppression of the defendant's statements make a significant change in the case, meaning the parties may have more or less willingness to negotiate based on that," the prosecutor said.
Ruckriegle told Bakke he understood but added he would not allow plea negotiations once a trial date was set. Three days later, he set an Aug. 27 trial date. He later twice extended the deadline for a plea deal, most recently to July 28.