EAGLE, Colo. (AP) – NBA star Kobe Bryant must stand trial on a charge of raping a 19-year-old Colorado resort worker, a judge ruled Monday, clearing the way for a celebrity trial the likes of which haven’t been seen since O.J. Simpson was in court.
Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett said prosecutors presented enough evidence Bryant might have committed the crime June 30. The Los Angeles Lakers guard could face a life sentence if convicted.
Bryant, 25, has said the sex was consensual. His attorneys suggested the woman’s injuries came during sex with other men in the days before her encounter with Bryant at a posh resort in nearby Edwards.
At Bryant’s first appearance in state district court he will be advised of his rights, of the charge and of the possible penalties. He could enter a plea during that hearing.
Unless Bryant waives his right to a speedy trial, the trial would be scheduled within six months of his plea.
At trial, any discussion of the woman’s sexual history could be limited by Colorado’s rape shield law, unless Bryant’s attorneys successfully argue the evidence fits into one of the few exceptions.
Prosecutors, however, must convince a jury that a woman flattered by Bryant’s attention had no intention of having sex with him as they kissed. Winters acknowledged she told him she expected Bryant to “put a move” on her when she accepted the invitation to his room.
Bryant’s next appearance, in district court, will be Nov. 10.