Hurlbert fires back at Bryant defense criticism
EAGLE (AP) – The prosecutor who pursued the now-dismissed sexual assault case against NBA star Kobe Bryant has acknowledged that at least some evidence turned up suggesting that the Los Angeles Lakers guard was innocent of raping a Vail-area resort worker last year.District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who represents Summit, Eagle, Lake and Clear Creek counties, made the disclosure in response to criticism from Bryant’s defense team, which claimed that prosecutors never shared such exculpatory material before the criminal case against Bryant was dismissed Sept. 1.”Nothing could be further from the truth,” Hurlbert wrote. “Any exculpatory evidence that came into our possession, and there was very little, was turned over to the defense.” Hurlbert did not describe what that evidence was.In its filing, the defense said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation gave the prosecution evidence suggesting Bryant’s innocence, and that the alleged victim retracted some of her statements to investigators just a month before Bryant’s trial was scheduled to start. The defense did not detail the alleged retractions.The sharp exchange between Hurlbert and defense attorney Pamela Mackey centers in large part on claims that details about evidence and the accuser were leaked throughout the case. The defense reversed course this week, however, and called for the release of every case file, saying it would show how shoddy and unprofessional the prosecution was.Hurlbert fired back, accusing Bryant’s attorneys of being as responsible as anyone for the leaks – usually in open court – and were now trying to tar authorities with “half-truths and outright lies.””They have no compunction of violating several innocent people’s privacy rights on a whim,” Hurlbert wrote. “The hypocrisy is staggering, especially when considering that much of this information was already leaked (by the defense).”Hurlbert also said it was up to him and the sheriff to determine whether every detail should be released, as Mackey urged. Hurlbert and the woman’s attorneys have long said that her name, medical history and sex life should remain private.”During the 14 months of the criminal case, bit by bit, unflattering information about the victim was leaked to the press,” Hurlbert wrote. “Much of this information was brazenly leaked by (defense attorney Hal) Haddon and Ms. Mackey in open court or in their motions. The trial court did nothing despite repeated requests.”The felony sexual assault charge was dropped at the request of the alleged victim, who said she could no longer go forward with the criminal case. District Judge Richard Hart then granted an emergency defense request to seal the case file, but it is expected to be released soon – after prosecutors and sheriff’s officials redact portions of the contents.Bryant, 26, still faces a civil lawsuit filed by the accuser in Denver federal court. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
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