VAIL, Colo. – Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant (search) sexual assault case said in interviews this week that they were not concerned with a ruling that many legal experts said would have torpedoed their chances of convicting the NBA star.
In separate interviews with two Colorado newspapers, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert (search) and deputy prosecutor Dana Easter (search) said the judge's decision to allow the defense to use evidence about the alleged victim's sexual activities in the three days before her hospital examination would not have hurt their case.
"The 72-hour window was not a big deal, given all the evidence in this case," Hurlbert told the Vail Daily for a story in Friday editions.
Easter said defense investigators "talked to every person she ever kissed and never found anyone who said they had sex with her between June 28 and June 30, and no one after the incident."
At the request of the accuser who no longer wanted to testify, prosecutors dismissed the felony sexual assault charge against the Los Angeles Lakers guard in the middle of jury selection last week.
Defense attorneys had said they would argue the 20-year-old woman had sex with men other than Bryant in the three days, including somebody in the 15 hours following her encounter with Bryant. The defense was expected to use the allegation, denied by the woman's attorneys, to undermine the accuser's credibility.
But Hurlbert said the physical evidence was strong enough that the case would not have hinged on whether jurors put more credence in her testimony or Bryant's.
"There was so much good, credible evidence in this case. There was certainly other evidence that would have been introduced at trial," he said. "Bryant's statements have not yet been heard by the public. Her outcry, her demeanor. There was strong evidence, and it was a strong case.
"Compared to other cases I've won, it stacks up well," he said.
He said given the chance, he would file the charges again. At the alleged victim's request, however, prosecutors agreed they will not refile charges against Bryant.
The NBA star still faces a civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages.
Easter told The Denver Post that in his taped interview with investigators, Bryant put his hand on the woman's neck and bent her over a chair to have sex with her, later saying it was "just my thing."
She said he initially told investigators he did not have sex with the woman and later said it was consensual.
Hurlbert has not responded to requests for interviews with The Associated Press, and Easter has not returned several calls.
Defense attorney Pamela Mackey (search) blasted Easter's comments.
"It's libelous, slanderous and untrue," she told the Post. "She is cooking up this stuff, and you are the agent of her lies and misstatements. She's out for Kobe's blood."
Meanwhile, Bryant's attorneys have won the first round in their bid to permanently seal documents and evidence from the case.
In a ruling late Wednesday, District Judge Richard Hart approved an emergency request from Mackey, who said Bryant would "suffer real, immediate and irreparable injury" if the records were released.
At least six requests had been filed seeking access to the records, Mackey said. Among those requests was one from The Associated Press.
The evidence includes recordings and transcripts of Bryant's interview with investigators the night after the alleged attack and several hundred sealed court filings.