Accuser's mom: Trial 'as soon as possible'

EAGLE, Colo. -- Backed by a heartfelt plea from her mother, the 19-year-old woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape asked the judge Thursday to set a trial date so she can stop trying to outrun the media and perhaps put an end to the death threats she's endured over the past nine months. "Her life is on hold and her safety is in jeopardy until this case is over," the woman's mother wrote in a letter accompanying a court filing seeking "swift resolution" of the pretrial proceedings. The woman's attorney, John Clune, said the woman has received "literally hundreds of phone calls and e-mails threatening either death or mutilation." "None of these consequences will end until after this case goes to trial," Clune wrote. He said prosecutors have no objection to setting a trial date. "Additionally, as the court is certainly aware, cases involving unlawful sexual offenses have the highest statutory priority on the court's docket," Clune wrote. Clune quoted a state law that requires judges to set trials as soon as possible in cases involving certain sex crimes against children under 15. Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said she could not comment and Clune declined further comment when reached by telephone. The request came as Bryant and attorneys in the case held closed-door arguments over what evidence will be admitted at trial. Among other things, the defense wants details of the woman's sex life admitted to back up their claim she might have been injured during sex with someone else the week of her encounter with Bryant. The woman herself testified for more than three hours Wednesday, the first time she has faced Bryant since the alleged attack last June at the Vail-area resort where she worked. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex. If convicted of felony sexual assault, the 25-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation. Clune's statement and the letter are the first glimpses into the woman's life since she leveled the rape accusation last summer. Most media organizations have not disclosed her identity, but her name and image have been plastered across the Internet and supermarket tabloids for months. Three men have been arrested and charged with making death threats against her. In the letter, the woman's mother told the judge her daughter has lived in four states in the past six months and that she and her husband are constantly worried about her safety. She had sharp criticism of the media for forcing her daughter to literally live on the run. "She can't live at home, she can't live with relatives, she can't go to school or talk to her friends," she wrote. "Even the defendant is able to continue living in his home and continue with his employment. "My daughter has plans for her future. She wants to continue her education," she wrote. "I am asking that the court do whatever possible to bring this case to trial as soon as possible." Pretrial hearings are tentatively scheduled into mid-May. The hearing on Bryant's statements and the physical evidence will continue on April 2. The Lakers play a 10:30 ET game that night in Seattle against the SuperSonics. Clune said his client respects the judge's obligation to be fair, but said the strain is increasing as more time passes. "Her daily concern is 'When will the media or defense investigators find me and where will I go then?' " Clune wrote. Legal experts were split Thursday on whether the judge will quickly set a trial date as requested. Former prosecutor David Lugert said Clune's quoting of state law was simply a way of asking the judge to abide by the spirit of this law to help the alleged victim put the case behind her more quickly. Lugert pointed out that Clune also quoted the state's Victim Rights Act, which says alleged crime victims in all cases have the right to a swift and fair resolution of the proceedings. Craig Silverman, another former prosecutor, said Ruckriegle likely will take issue with Clune's language, saying Clune implied that the judge was not following the law. Whatever the intent, victims' advocates said the sooner a trial is held, the better it will be for the alleged victim. "She is doing her best to regain her privacy and control over her life," said Cynthia Stone of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "She's just asking the judge to consider that when he's thinking about the timing of the process." Former Denver prosecutor Norm Early said the case has moved unusually slowly, making life more difficult for the woman. "If this is dragged out for 12 to 18 months, this woman would fall apart," he said. Inside the courthouse, defense attorneys continued their bid to have details of the woman's sex life admitted as evidence at the NBA star's trial. A former boyfriend, Matt Herr, testified behind closed doors for about an hour. More witnesses could be called during an April 26-28 hearing. The defense insists the woman's sexual history is relevant because it could show her injuries were caused by another sex partner and that she had a "scheme" to have sex with Bryant and others, possibly to gain the attention of an ex-boyfriend. Colorado's rape-shield law generally bars defense attorneys from bringing up an alleged victim's sexual history. Judges, however, can hear such testimony in private to determine whether the information is relevant and admissible as evidence. Several witnesses also testified Thursday to help determine whether Bryant's statements to authorities will be admitted at trial along with physical evidence including a T-shirt stained with the accuser's blood. The defense says authorities violated court guidelines for gathering evidence and secretly taped Bryant's comments. Bryant's statement to authorities, made the day after the alleged attack, has not been released. During a hearing last month, defense attorney Hal Haddon said the law calls for hair, fibers and similar evidence to be obtained during daylight. Bryant's hospital exam was performed before dawn on July 2, little more than 24 hours after the alleged assault. Haddon said the physical evidence and Bryant's statement should be off-limits because his client was being questioned without having been read his rights. Eagle County sheriff's Detective Doug Winters has admitted he signed a document indicating Bryant had been officially detained. But he said Bryant was cooperative and understood he was free to leave at any time. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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