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Becker: Bryant case turns on consent, evidence

Bob Becker
Bob Becker

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Basketball star Kobe Bryant tells a news conference he is innocent of sexual assault charge
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(CNN) -- The district attorney in Eagle County, Colorado, charged Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant with one count of sexual assault. In a news conference Friday night, Bryant admitted that he had sex with a 19-year-old hotel worker, but said it was consensual.

Sports commentator and litigator Rob Becker discussed the case Saturday with CNN's Heidi Collins.

COLLINS: Bryant is charged with one count of sexual assault. What does that say to you?

BECKER: Well, it says, basically that there was sexual penetration, which Kobe has already admitted to, and the complaint says penetration or intrusion. But that whole complaint just quotes the statute, it's not really trying to tell us what happened.

So, really Kobe has already told us what physically happened, but we have to find out whether there was consent or not. And that's really going to be the whole case. In fact, his lawyer yesterday said not only that he was innocent but, ... this was consensual sex and that Kobe had no reason to believe otherwise.

In other words, it doesn't matter what was in the privacy of this woman's mind. What matters is what she said and did and whether someone in Kobe's position would have understood that there was consent or not. And that's what this case is about.

COLLINS: So doesn't that make it that much harder to prove? Is it a case of he said, she said?

BECKER: Well, it's a he said, she said -- plus physical evidence. There could be bruising, there could be tearing of clothes, bruises on the body and that could be the thing that sways it one way or the other.

But no matter what, it's always going to be a hard case to prove because the one thing that Kobe starts with, of course, that is on his side, is that this must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The D.A. agonized over that, took two weeks -- which is fine -- and then decided, he made it very clear, that he thinks he can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

And to me, the thing is, when you see a guy take two weeks and then say yes I can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, to me that means that if you're in Kobe's position you should be a bit worried. Because this guy, Mr. Hurlbert, has already shown that he's not the type of guy who jumps to get publicity, you know? And who wants to really go after athletes. He's only going to do it if he really thinks it's the right thing to do.

So, I think you have to give a little bit more credibility to Mr. Hurlbert than some of the other D.A.s we've seen, with other famous athletes, who are looking for publicity.

COLLINS: And speaking of credibility, what does it say to you that now that Kobe has come out and actually said, that yes, I did commit adultery. I did have sex with this young woman. Does that change things at all in your mind?

BECKER: It's not so much that it changes. What it is, it's a defensive move to maintain credibility; because if he said, look, I had nothing to do with this. And then, I'm sure they have some kind of evidence that is going to easily prove that there was sex that took place.

So if he says, I got nothing to do with this -- and then they prove that they did have sex -- then when he came to the point where he said, this was consensual, no one would believe him. But now he's admitted the adultery, so he can still maintain his credibility when he says, there was consent here. So, I think it was an intelligent move on his part. And it is also a way of telling the D.A., look, we're focusing the issue, we know what we're fighting about. We're going to fight about consent and get ready.

COLLINS: Rob, just one quick second left. I want to ask you how long you think all of this will take?

BECKER: Well, because of the venue change, I think there will be a venue motion, it will be granted. It will be moved to a small town in Colorado, far from Eagle. That pushes it more than six months, it could be nine months, a year. It would not shock me if this trial starts after the next NBA season.


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