Judge Eases Gag Order in Kobe Case

The judge in the Kobe Bryant (search) sexual assault case has loosened a sweeping gag order after objections from prosecutors, news organizations and attorneys for the accuser.

The new order, made public Wednesday, permits comments to reporters in some circumstances but still prohibits talking about the character and credibility of the accuser, Bryant or any witness. Also prohibited are comments about expected testimony, the possibility of a plea agreement, and Bryant's guilt or innocence.

It replaces an Aug. 4 order that prohibited any comment to reporters by anybody connected with the case, and by people who share offices with anybody connected to the case.

That order was requested by the defense after attorneys for the accuser appeared on national television and criticized the judge for courtroom blunders.

Bryant, 25, is charged with felony sexual assault. He pleaded not guilty and has said he had consensual sex with an employee of the Vail-area resort where he stayed last summer.

If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation. Jury selection is scheduled to begin next week.