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Judge rejects request to shield Bryant's accuser

DENVER -- A federal judge rejected yesterday a request from the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape to remain anonymous in her civil lawsuit against the NBA star, saying the public's interest in open court proceedings outweighs her desire to shield her identity.

''The parties appear as equals before the court, and that fundamental principle must be protected throughout these proceedings," US District Judge Richard Matsch said.

Matsch said allowing the woman to shield her identity could be misconstrued as a prejudgment in her favor.

Lawyers for the 20-year-old woman had asked Matsch to protect her identity, saying she has been the subject of death threats and sordid publicity for more than a year. Lawyers representing Bryant opposed the request, saying the woman should not be able to bring a ''false accusation" in her civil lawsuit without being identified.

A lawyer for the woman, John Clune, said he had not seen the ruling and had no immediate comment. He said there were no plans to drop the suit, which seeks unspecified damages for what the woman says has been ridicule, pain, and suffering since the incident.

Prosecutors dismissed a felony sexual assault charge against Bryant, 26, last month after the woman said she no longer wanted to participate in a criminal trial. Her identity has been splashed across the Internet in part because of mistakes by courthouse staff in posting case filings on a state website.

Bryant has always insisted the encounter between the two at a Vail-area resort last summer was consensual.

No trial date has been set in the civil lawsuit.

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