DENVER – A prosecutor in the Kobe Bryant (search) case said there was solid evidence that the NBA star raped his 20-year-old accuser, but officials were forced to drop charges after the woman grew "physically ill" from stress and pulled out of the case.
Deputy district attorney Dana Easter said the "remarkable young lady" withstood more than a year of being followed by Bryant's investigators and the media but feared what was going to happen during the trial.
"She was physically ill. Her anticipation of what was going to be done to her and what was going to be allowed to be done to her was frightening. I don't think any of us will ever experience that kind of awful anticipation," Easter told the Rocky Mountain News in a story published Wednesday. She had been prevented from speaking out before because of a gag order in the case.
Had the case gone to trial, Easter said, prosecutors could have proved the woman had been raped based on her "battering ram" injuries, Bryant's statement to investigators and the statements of three people who saw her after the alleged assault.
"It was a physically violent assault. It was a very degrading assault. It was clearly perpetrated by someone who thought he was entitled," said Easter.
She said blood from the woman's wounds was found on Bryant and his T-shirt.
Bryant's attorney, Pamela Mackey (search), said she could not comment because she is representing Bryant in the civil lawsuit filed by the woman.
Bryant issued an apology after the sexual assault charge was dismissed, saying he believed the June 30, 2003, encounter at a Colorado resort was consensual, but recognized "that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."
Easter said the accuser has been mortified by the coverage of the case and her sex life, and moved to five different states to get away from the scrutiny. The accuser's name was accidentally released at least twice by court officials. Defense testimony from a closed hearing also was erroneously released.
Easter called Mackey's statement that the woman had sex with three men in three days "bogus." She also said that there was no truth to the defense's claim that the woman had sex with someone else soon after her encounter with Bryant.
In testimony from the closed-door hearing that was accidentally released to some media outlets, a defense expert said that semen from another man was found on the alleged victim and in her underwear during her rape exam.
However, Easter offered a different explanation. She said the woman returned home stunned after her encounter with Bryant and changed into a blue tank top and yellow underwear that she pulled out of an overnight bag. She had worn the underwear after having sex on June 18, her birthday.
At the time, Easter said, the woman didn't plan to report what had happened even though she had told her friend and a former boyfriend what had happened. When she woke up the next morning, Easter said the woman realized she had to report what happened and called her mother. They then reported it to police.
"We really believed in her and we still do. I can't emphasize that enough," Easter said.
Easter said she is concerned the case will stop other women from coming forward with rape charges because "the amount of victim blaming that went on in this case was phenomenal."
She said the woman had to be hospitalized after the first day of a preliminary hearing last fall because she was so devastated at the reporting about her sex life.
The woman's civil suit is still pending, seeking unspecified monetary damages for pain and emotional distress the woman says she has suffered since her accusation became public 14 months ago.
On Tuesday, the accuser's attorneys went on network television to dispel speculation that a settlement is in the works.
"We fully expect that case to be aggressively litigated," attorney John Clune said on the CBS "Early Show."