DENVER – Attorneys for the woman accusing Kobe Bryant (search) of rape have launched a startling attack on the trial judge, accusing him of trying to protect himself by imposing an unconstitutional gag order only after their client was "devastated" by some of the NBA star's evidence.
John Clune and L. Lin Wood said the gag order threatens their client's reputation and her right to a fair trial of her allegations.
The filing was released Monday -- the same day state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle (search) rejected a motion by the prosecution and the woman's attorneys asking that documents in the case not be posted on the court's Web site.
In both instances, the release of material from closed-door, pretrial hearings is the core issue. Clune and Wood wrote a scathing motion saying the gag order expanded last week by Ruckriegle lets stand the "devastating, one-sided account" from closed hearings into whether the accuser's sexual history should be entered as evidence.
Clune and a prosecution spokeswoman declined to comment.
The transcripts, accidentally e-mailed to seven media outlets, focused primarily on a defense expert's opinion that the woman had sex with someone after Bryant and before her hospital exam and a defense claim that she is pursuing the case for monetary reasons.
The 25-year-old Los Angeles Lakers (search) superstar has said the 20-year-old woman consented to sex with him last summer at the Vail-area resort where she worked.
Media outlets, including The Associated Press, challenged Ruckriegle's order barring publication of the transcripts. Under pressure from the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruckriegle released edited versions of the transcripts.
Clune and Wood argued that the gag order, revised last week after they appeared on national television, means "only the rapist's version of events will be disseminated to the media."
"Even Timothy McVeigh had a right to speak. No less right belongs to a rape victim," the attorneys wrote.
The courts said McVeigh, executed in June 2001 for the Oklahoma City bombing, could speak with the media to counter negative publicity about him, Clune and Wood wrote.
The attorneys also argued the gag order is too broad, unconstitutional and attempts to protect the court from criticism for its mistakes, including release of the alleged victim's name.
The court is trying to prevent "public comment and criticism regarding the frequent prejudicial errors by which this court has permitted the victim's name to be released and her character, credibility and reputation to be attacked," Clune and Wood wrote.
Former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman described the documents filed by the woman's attorneys as "scapegoating the court."
"The court has made mistakes, but it did not make up this 'devastating' new information about the accuser having sex with Mr. X," he said, adding that her attorneys' criticism of the gag order did "a masterful job" of deflecting attention from the transcripts.
Ruckriegle apologized during a July 30 hearing for the inadvertent release of information. He has ruled, however, that the woman's sex life in the three days before her July 1, 2003, hospital exam can be used as evidence because it is relevant to help determine the cause of her injuries, the source of DNA evidence and her credibility.
Bryant is charged with felony sexual assault. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation. Jury selection begins Aug. 27.