The defense loses its initial bid to have the NBA star's accuser's sexual history bared

By Vickie Bane and Stephen M. Silverman
Updated June 11, 2004 08:00 AM

The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case on Thursday rejected a bid by the NBA star’s attorneys to have the state’s tough rape-shield law declared unconstitutional.

Defense attorney Hal Haddon had argued that the law contributed to a violation of Bryant’s right to equal protection under the law.

But Colorado District Judge Terry Ruckriegle decided that a “long line” of court cases support the law, which generally bars defense attorneys from using information about the sexual history of alleged assault victims.

“This opinion was about as damaging as missing a full-court shot at the end of the first quarter of a basketball game. It’s a long-shot that nobody expected would succeed, but there’s no harm in trying,” Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor and legal analyst who is closely following Bryant’s case, tells PEOPLE.

“The reason why the law is constitutional is because it provides exceptions to sometimes admit evidence of sexual conduct on the part of the alleged victim,” explains Silverman.

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. The Lakers star claims he had consensual sex with the 19-year-old employee of a Vail-area resort, where he stayed June 30.

Meanwhile, Thursday delivered another blow to Bryant — on the court, rather than in one.

The Detroit Pistons’ Richard Hamilton scored 31 points as his team led from start to finish to humiliate the Lakers 88-68, giving the Pistons a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and giving the Lakers plenty to think about it as they head into Game Four Sunday in Detroit.