October 03, 2003 10:48 AM

In what is being called a setback for Kobe Bryant, on Thursday the judge in the L.A. Lakers star’s sexual assault case refused to force Bryant’s accuser to testify at a preliminary hearing and said the proceedings will probably be kept open to the public, reports the Associated Press.

Judge Frederick Gannett’s decision to keep the hearing open could prompt Bryant’s defense team to waive the Oct. 9 proceeding and instead head straight to trial, notes the news service. As it is, Bryant is due before the jurist next week for a bail hearing.

Judge Gannett also denied a request by Bryant’s lawyers to view the medical records of the 19-year-old accuser, who was working as a concierge at a plush Colorado resort on June 30, the night she claims Bryant forced himself upon her sexually. (He claims that the sex was consensual.)

The accuser, whose name has not been revealed by the mainstream press, reportedly was treated earlier this year at a hospital after police at the University of Northern Colorado, where she was a freshman, determined she was “a danger to herself.” Questions about her mental stability could have entered into courtroom testimony had these records become open to Bryant’s legal team.

Bryant’s attorneys did not return the AP’s calls for comment Thursday, nor did a spokeswoman for the prosecution in the case.

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