Judge Rejects Bryant Motion

Times Staff Writer

In a ruling expected by legal analysts, a judge Thursday rejected an attempt by Kobe Bryant’s attorneys to overturn Colorado’s rape-shield law.

Judge Terry Ruckriegle’s order does not affect whether evidence pertaining to the sexual history of Bryant’s accuser will be admissible at trial. Testimony on that topic is expected to conclude this month at a pretrial hearing, and the judge will determine in a separate ruling if that evidence is an exception to the rape-shield statute.

Enacted in the 1970s, the law prevents the sexual history of an alleged victim from being introduced as evidence unless the defense proves that it is relevant.


“This court will ultimately determine the relevancy of such evidence to the charges,” Ruckriegle said. “Therefore, this case presents a factual situation wherein the rape-shield statute can be applied to the defendant in a constitutionally permissible manner.”

Ruckriegle held an evidentiary hearing at the request of Bryant’s attorneys before making a decision. The judge wrote that case law does not support the defense contention that “the rape-shield statute cannot be applied in a constitutional fashion, affording the defendant his right to both due process and equal protection under the laws.”

Bryant’s attorneys had argued that the law was unfair because a defendant’s sexual history can be disclosed at a trial.

However, the judge pointed out that the prosecution had said that it would not introduce evidence of Bryant’s sexual history.

Victim advocates praised the ruling.

“The Colorado rape-shield law has been upheld so many times that we weren’t deeply concerned about it, but what we like is that this is a reaffirmation,” said Cynthia Stone, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“It is good to see that a law that has been on the books for 25 years or so is still viewed as appropriate and necessary. It is a balanced law that protects the privacy of the victim while also preserving the rights of the defendant.”


The rights of sexual assault victims are still an important political issue in Colorado. The state Legislature passed a law this year that protects the identity of rape victims during criminal justice proceedings.

Bryant is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a mountain resort June 30. He has pleaded not guilty and has said that they had consensual sex.