Published January 14, 2015
A man was sentenced to four months in federal prison Friday for leaving a profanity-laced death threat on the answering machine of the woman accusing Kobe Bryant (search) of rape.
John Roche (search), 23, had pleaded guilty to making a threatening telephone call across state lines. He faced up to six months in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Instead, Roche was fined $1,000 and will be under two years of supervised release when he leaves prison.
Prosecutors said Roche threatened to assault the woman with a coat hanger and repeatedly vowed to kill her in a message left last summer. It was one of several death threats the woman's lawyer says she has received since accusing the Los Angeles Lakers (search) star of rape.
Roche was a student at the University of Iowa (search) at the time. A friend has said Roche had been drinking all day at a golf tournament when he made the call.
Judge Walker Miller said Roche has substance abuse problems and tested positive for cocaine while out on bond awaiting sentencing.
"I do have optimism that you will learn from this, but I want to emphasize that a lot of people do ruin their lives with alcohol and drugs," Miller said.
Roche's parents, John and Pat, were reluctant to comment afterward. His mother wept during the sentencing.
"We love and pray for our son," Pat Roche said. "That's my comment."
The parents of the accuser also were in the courtroom, and the mother spoke to the judge.
"The very graphic and cruel nature of this threat give us every reason to believe he would follow it through," she told the judge.
Roche's defense lawyer, Nathan Chambers, said the prison sentence was disproportionate punishment for the crime. He added that his client was profoundly sorry for making the call.
Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the woman, then 19, at the Vail-area resort where she worked last summer.
If convicted, Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.