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Rape Case Against Bryant Is Dropped

Colorado's "rape shield" law would usually protect the complainant in a rape case from such disclosures, but Bryant's attorneys convinced the judge that the privacy law should not apply in this case. The Colorado Supreme Court declined to overrule the judge's decision to let evidence of her sexual history be presented to the jury.

Beyond that, mistakes by the court staff have released the woman's name to the public, and sealed transcripts dealing with her sexual history have been sent to the news media by accident. Her name, photo and whereabouts have been reported on numerous Web sites. Defense attorneys have described her in public documents as a sexually promiscuous liar and drug abuser.

The Kobe Bryant case collapses as prosecutors said they had no choice but to drop the sexual assault charge against Bryant because the alleged victim could no longer participate. (Reuters)

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The mother and father of Bryant's alleged victim wrote angry letters to the judge earlier this year, complaining that he failed to protect their daughter's privacy and reputation. The judge has apologized for the accidental release of information.

Three weeks ago, when the woman filed the civil suit against Bryant in federal court, some court observers suggested that move might be part of an "exit strategy."

"It doesn't make any sense to file a civil suit two weeks before the criminal trial unless you are planning to drop the criminal case," said Craig Silverman, a defense lawyer and former prosecutor in Denver. "If Kobe goes to trial and is acquitted, she loses a lot of her leverage for a settlement. If she is interested in getting some money, she would do better to decline to testify for the prosecution and then start negotiating over a settlement of the civil case."

The celebrity trial that has overwhelmed this small mountain village in central Colorado had its beginnings on the night of June 30, 2003, when Bryant checked into a resort in nearby Edwards, Colo. He asked the woman, a desk clerk, to come to his room.

The woman told police the next morning that the couple engaged in "mutual flirting." According to sheriff's deputies who interviewed her, she did not initially resist when Bryant hugged and kissed her. But then, she reported, the athlete gripped her by the neck, bent her over a chair and raped her.

In Los Angeles, some of Bryant's fans reacted with glee over the charge being dropped.

"The Lakers are going to be good now," said Ben Larsen, 19, who was wearing a Lakers jersey as he high-fived several friends at a mall after hearing the news. "I think she was just trying to get some money out of Kobe."

The case of People v. Kobe Bean Bryant generated hundreds of other motions involving four sets of lawyers -- the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, two lawyers representing the alleged victim, and attorneys for media organizations seeking public access to in-court proceedings and documents. Appeals in the case have gone to the Colorado Supreme Court three times and to the U.S. Supreme Court twice.

Prosecutors suggested last week that Bryant has spent about $12 million on lawyers, investigators and experts to defend against the felony charge. The prosecution has not revealed its spending, but lawyers and investigators from several Colorado jurisdictions have devoted a year's time to assisting the local district attorney.

Advocates for rape victims have deplored the treatment of the alleged victim and warned that other women might be reluctant to report the crime after seeing what happened in the case.

Special correspondent Kimberly Edds in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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