Prosecutors said Monday that they still plan to take National Basketball Association star Kobe Bryant to trial on a sexual assault charge, despite a judge's decision that could make it harder to win a conviction.
In what legal experts called a key victory for the defense, District Judge Terry Ruckriegle ruled last week that the defense will be able to present details about the sex life of Bryant's accuser to bolster its contention that her injuries could have been caused by sex with someone else.
"We're still planning on moving forward toward a trial," prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said Monday.
She said prosecutors spoke to the 20-year-old accuser after the ruling and "she still has strong resolve to move forward."
The defense has suggested the woman had multiple sexual partners in the days surrounding her encounter with Bryant, including sex with someone after the alleged attack and before she contacted authorities. One of the woman's attorneys, John Clune, has denied that allegation.
Flannigan declined to say whether prosecutors had ruled out a plea bargain. The judge on Friday extended a deadline for a plea deal to Wednesday.
Clune and another of the woman's attorneys, Lin Wood, did not immediately return telephone and e-mail requests for comment. Defense attorneys Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon had no comment, their law office said.
Bryant, 25, faces a single charge of felony sexual assault stemming from a June 2003 encounter with the woman, then a 19-year-old desk worker at a resort in the Vail area. He has pleaded not guilty, saying they had consensual sex.
Bryant's trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 27. If convicted, the Los Angeles Lakers star faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, plus a fine of up to $750,000.
Colorado's rape-shield law generally prevents the sex life of an alleged assault victim from being admitted as evidence. But a judge can hear such evidence behind closed doors and determine whether the details are relevant.
Ruckriegle said the defense can present evidence about the woman's sexual activities in the three days before a July 1, 2003, hospital exam, saying it is relevant to help determine the cause of her injuries, the source of DNA evidence and her credibility.
The judge's ruling explaining what evidence will be admitted is sealed.