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A Different Spotlight For Bryant Accuser

In a statement to a detective, the young woman said she went to Bryant's room at his request and willingly kissed and hugged him, but then tried to leave when he wanted to go further. She said he then grabbed her by the neck, bent her over a chair and violated her as she cried and protested.

Bryant has disavowed her story, admitting he had sex with her but contending it was consensual. His defense attorneys have introduced information during pretrial hearings about the woman's personal life, alleged drug use and two suicide attempts, which they said were efforts to gain attention from a former boyfriend. Both incidents occurred when she was a college freshman, in the four-month period before she met Bryant.

Eagle has been inundated by reporters because of the Kobe Bryant rape trial. "It's a pretty small town, and this has had a big impact," said Jennifer Bliss, 29. (Barry Gutierrez -- Rocky Mountain News)

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Published reports have said that the University of Northern Colorado campus police responded to a call at the accuser's dormitory in February 2003 and took her to a hospital because she was a "danger to herself." Several friends also said in newspaper interviews that the woman overdosed on sleeping pills a few months later on May 30 when she was home, although they disagreed over whether the incident was intentional or accidental. Those incidents were discussed in defense motions filed last year.

In a preliminary court hearing last year, Pamela Mackey, the lead defense attorney, brought up the alleged victim's sexual activity. Mackey implied that genital injuries the woman sustained and a DNA analysis show the woman may have had sex with other men after her encounter with Bryant. The woman's lawyers denied that allegation.

Bryant's attorneys, legal analysts say, are trying to paint Bryant's accuser as a sexually promiscuous and mentally unstable woman whose credibility is questionable.

Although Ruckriegle ruled that evidence about the woman's psychological history cannot be presented at trial, he will allow defense lawyers to probe the accuser's sexual activity in the three days surrounding her hotel room encounter with Bryant.

If convicted of felony sexual assault, Bryant, 26, could be sentenced to four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, plus a fine of up to $750,000. He would have to register in Colorado as a sex offender. A conviction would void his new $136 million contract with the Lakers.

The accuser's personal attorney, John Clune, declined a request to interview his client and refused to discuss the case. The woman's father also declined to comment, saying wearily but politely as he stood at the door of the family's two-story gray frame home, "We're not returning phone calls. We just have no comment."

Jennifer Bliss, 29, said of this friendly town of 3,700 people: "It's like six degrees of separation here. I don't know her personally, but I certainly know people who know her. It's a pretty small town, and this has had a big impact."

No one knows that better than the young woman who once hoped to dominate a stage and play to the crowd.

"This is not the kind of spotlight she wanted," said Ashley Scriver, 20, who said she and the woman have been "best friends since we were in sixth grade."

"It's ruined her chance to be in the kind of spotlight she wanted to be in," Scriver said. "Nobody would purposely get themselves into something like this."

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