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Kobe might have messed up in the wrong state


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48194-2003Jul25.html

Bryant Faces Tough Law In Colorado Rape Case

Severe Penalties, Sympathetic Juries

By T. R. Reid

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, July 26, 2003; Page A01

DENVER -- The clock was approaching midnight, but the date had gone well and the young couple were not ready to part. They went to a bedroom together, both testified later, shared drinks and marijuana, and eventually had intercourse. The next day, the woman reported that she had been raped.

The man was charged with Class 3 felony sexual assault under Colorado's tough new rape law -- the same charge brought last week against Los Angeles Lakers all-star Kobe Bryant.

In that case in Denver three years ago, the prosecution's only evidence was the woman's testimony. There were no injuries to suggest that force was used, no friends to testify that the woman had been distressed afterward. The victim was such a convincing witness that the jury rejected the defense of consensual sex. The defendant, who had no prior criminal record, is now serving a minimum 16-year prison term and faces years of closely supervised probation upon release.

Precedents like that case suggest the difficult legal road that could be facing the 24-year-old Bryant if he heads to trial on charges of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel clerk at a Colorado resort on the night of June 30. Defense lawyers and victims advocates here agree that Colorado is a state where both the law and the public mood has grown significantly tougher for accused sexual offenders in recent years.

"You don't want to be charged with sexual assault anywhere, but Colorado is one of the worst places to be charged with sexual assault," said Craig Silverman, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor in Denver. "Over the past five years, the legislature has rewritten the statutes and beefed up the penalties. The goal is to isolate a sexual offender from society, and then keep him under tight supervision basically for life."

Meantime, news cameras will be allowed inside the courtroom at Kobe Bryant's hearing on a sexual assault charge on Aug. 6, a judge ruled yesterday.

After initial denials to the press, Bryant conceded last week that he did have intercourse with the 19-year-old in his hotel suite. The Lakers guard, who has had an impeccable image on and off the court, said the sex was consensual and he is not guilty of the criminal charge.

That sets up a courtroom confrontation that could turn, to a considerable extent, on his word against hers. But the pattern in recent "acquaintance-rape" cases in this state has been for juries to side with the alleged victim, notes University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos.

"If you review the Colorado cases, you can see that the pendulum has swung toward the victim," Campos says. "You get convictions in some date-rape situations strictly on the women's testimony, with no corroborative evidence of a struggle or a contemporaneous complaint."

Jill McFadden, executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a government-funded advocacy office, says that "women who are sexually assaulted still have a tough time convincing juries that they were victims." But she agrees the law and the mood in this state have changed markedly.

"It's a combination of Republicans who want to be tough on crime and Democrats who are concerned about human rights, women's rights," McFadden said. "Both sides can agree when it comes to sexual offenses. The result is that Colorado has moved ahead of many states in dealing with sexual assault and with convicted offenders."

The 3-year-old state law under which Bryant has been charged involves four degrees of sexual assault, depending on the circumstances. The most severe crime is rape accompanying a kidnapping. A "Class 2" sexual assault covers rapists who use a deadly weapon or inflict serious bodily harm to force submission. "Class 3" involves the use of physical force, violence, or threats to compel sex. "Class 4" covers sex with an unwilling partner, but not involving force.

Silverman, the former prosecutor, said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert was probably thinking strategically when he charged Bryant with the Class 3 felony.

"Class 4 assault is a lesser included offense to the Class 3 charge," Silverman says. "So the DA can ask the judge to give the jury the option of a Class 4 conviction. If the case is close, the jury may fall back on the lesser charge as a compromise. But it's not much of a compromise for Kobe. It still gets him a felony conviction and a minimum of 10 years' probation."

If Bryant were to be convicted on the Class 3 charge, he could draw a sentence ranging from probation to life imprisonment, plus a fine up to $750,000. First-time offenders are often excused from prison terms, although such leniency may not apply to sexual offenders. In the Denver date-rape case in 2000, the defendant was given a sentence of 16 years to life despite a clean record before that charge. Any convicted rapist is listed permanently on a public register of sexual offenders.

But even defendants who avoid a jail term face a harsh probation regime in this state, following the passage in 1998 of Colorado's Sexual Offenders Lifetime Supervision Act.

To be considered for probation, a convicted offender must admit to having committed rape -- a condition Bryant might not want to meet even if convicted. During probation the offender must attend mandatory treatment programs and report regularly for testing by polygraph and plethysmograph, a physical exam that measures recent sexual activity.

Although "date rape" cases often come down to the testimony of those involved, defense lawyers and prosecutors here say they expect to see additional evidence in the Bryant case.

Hurlbert has said he will rely on "testimonial and physical evidence" to make his case. Lawyers say he may be referring to bruises or other signs of a struggle on the victim's body, and the testimony of "outcry witnesses" -- friends who may have seen her in distress after the disputed evening.

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If Kobe were a regular guy he might have picked the wrong state to mess up in.

Being a celebrity and having an unlimited amount of money to spend (even IF guilty) I imagine he'll end up purchasing his freedom as opposed to spending time in jail.

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REgular guy got a raw deal in that case.

And in Cali a guy got convicted while they were having consensual intercourse and she changed her mind in midstroke.

I'm just happy to have a hottie who understands and let me express my appreciation for her female form.

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Somehow that just sounds all wrong to me. I agree that rape is awful, but to send somebody up based only on testimony is just ridiculous. What is the penalty if the victim is found to be lying ? I can bet it wouldn't be 16 years and/or a $750k fine.

They won't ever have to worry about me EVER setting foot in CO. I'd never rape a woman, but the mere possibility of being accused of it in this type of atmosphere is enough to keep me away.

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Originally posted by Yusuf06

They won't ever have to worry about me EVER setting foot in CO.

It's a shame you feel that way.:( . I grew up and lived in P.G. and Montgomery counties and have now lived in CO for 12+ years, and I have seem much less racism and racial tension then my 27+ years living in the DC suburbs of MD. Colorado is very tolerant of many things but sexual assult is not one of them. If you ever do visit Colorado, you will feel very comfortable and see how nice Co is.

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From the sound of the laws there I think I might just take my chances with the PG county cops. At least if you survive the :box: :stick: :hammer: there's a nice lawsuit :deal: so you get paid for it. In CO, all you get is an all expenses paid trip to the "ass pounding" penitentiary.

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Originally posted by Yusuf06

From the sound of the laws there I think I might just take my chances with the PG county cops. At least if you survive the :box: :stick: :hammer: there's a nice lawsuit :deal: so you get paid for it. In CO, all you get is an all expenses paid trip to the "ass pounding" penitentiary.

sorry to burst your bubble, but Colorado is much more tolerant then MD. I have lived in both places, you have not.;)

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