Kobe Bryant will be remembered above all as a stellar athlete and highly devoted family man. That’s because he survived what was clearly his darkest hour — an allegation by a 19-year-old hotel clerk in Colorado that he raped her.
The alleged incident occurred June 30, 2003, in a hotel room at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in the Rocky Mountains town of Edwards. The woman who made the allegation was working as the front-desk clerk and accompanied Bryant on a tour of the property. She later went to his hotel room, where she said he raped her.
“Every time I said `no,’ he tightened his hold around me,” she told police, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast.
Afterward, she told police that Bryant warned her that the encounter “is just between the two, the two of us, nobody is gonna know about this, you’re not going to tell anybody.”
The 24-year-old Bryant was charged with one count of felony assault in a case that took 14 months to be resolved. In the end, the accuser decided not to testify and prosecutors dropped the case Sept. 1, 2004. A civil suit brought by the accuser in August 2004 was settled out of court in March 2005.
A day after the alleged rape, Bryant underwent knee surgery in nearby Vail. His accuser reported the incident to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department, and investigators searched his hotel room for evidence.
Bryant’s attorneys said DNA evidence suggested she had sex with someone else in the hours after the alleged rape and before a medical the exam was conducted, although prosecutors denied it. Bryant was charged with one count of felony sexual assault July 18th. With his wife, Vanessa, at his side, Bryant held a news conference at Staples Center, admitting that he committed adultery but denying he had assaulted the 19-year-old.
“I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery,” he conceded.
After nearly a year of discovery and pretrial hearings, Bryant entered a plea of not guilty on May 11th, 2004. As the case moved toward a trial, the accuser’s determination to pursue a criminal trial weakened once she added libel attorney Lin Wood to her team. He believed a criminal trial would not end well for her.
Later, there was another significant concession from Bryant.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” he said in a statement. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
For a time, he lost endorsement campaigns, including with Nike, which he resumed serving as pitchman in July 2005.
The rape allegation episode would resurge once again, in 2018, when 17,000 people signed a petition demanding he be stripped of his Academy Award nomination for his animated short, “Dear Basketball.”
Bryant won the Oscar anyway but was dropped from an Animation jury over the accusations.
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