Published October 06, 2004
DENVER – A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request from the woman accusing Kobe Bryant (search) of rape to remain anonymous in her civil lawsuit against the NBA star, saying the public's interest in open court proceedings outweighs her desire to shield her identity.
"The parties appear as equals before the court and that fundamental principle must be protected throughout these proceedings," U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch (search) said.
He said allowing the woman to remain anonymous could be misconstrued as a prejudgement in her favor.
Attorneys for the 20-year-old woman had asked Matsch to protect her identity, saying she has been the subject of death threats and sordid publicity for more than a year. At least two men have been prosecuted for allegedly threatening to kill the woman, or saying they would kill her for money.
Attorneys for Bryant opposed the anonymity request earlier this week, saying she shouldn't be able to bring a "false accusation" in her lawsuit without being identified.
No trial date has been set in the civil lawsuit (search).
Prosecutors dismissed a felony sexual assault charge against Bryant, 26, last month after the woman said she no longer wanted to participate in a criminal trial. Bryant has always insisted the encounter between the two at a Vail-area resort last summer was consensual.
An attorney for the woman, John Clune, said there were no plans to drop the civil suit, which seeks unspecified damages for what the woman says has been ridicule, pain and suffering since the incident.
"We knew this was a definite possibility and it's not a complete surprise," Clune said of the judge's decision.
The woman's identity has been splashed across the Internet in part because of mistakes by courthouse staff in posting case filings on a state Web site.
Most major news organizations, however, have not identified the woman in keeping with long-standing practice of protecting alleged rape victims. The Rocky Mountain News, in a court filing this week, hinted that it may identify the woman once the civil trial gets under way.