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D.A. to Announce Tomorrow Whether Bryant is Being Charged

Aired July 17, 2003 - 19:24   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: All right. Colorado district attorney is going to announce tomorrow whether criminal charges will be filed against Los Angeles Laker guard Kobe Bryant.
Now the five-time NBA all-star is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old employee of a Colorado resort where he was staying.

Our Gary Tuchman is right now in Eagle, Colorado.

Gary, what's the latest?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Kobe Bryant was arrested on July 4. Tomorrow, exactly two weeks after the arrest, the district attorney will announce whether he will place criminal charges against the Los Angeles Lakers star.

Now we were told about an hour and a half ago by the D.A. himself that he would make that announcement 5 Eastern time, 3 Mountain time here in this region of the country.

Now, this woman as you said, 19 years old. She graduated from high school here in Eagle County last year. We are told that right now she is with her family. Everything is remaining very quiet with her and her family right now as the decision is made by the district attorney whether to press charges.

Kobe Bryant remains very quiet also, although we did see him in public last night. He attended the Espy awards in Los Angeles, that's the sport awards show, and he was there with his wife. He was up for two awards. He didn't get either of the awards, but obviously if he's charged with a crime tomorrow that will be the least of his disappointments.

We can tell you there's a wide range of charges when it comes to sexual assault. We are not being told how serious this is. But if it's the most serious type of sexual assault charge in the state of Colorado, a person who is convicted of that sexual assault charge could face life in prison.

So tomorrow will be a very important day for Kobe Bryant.

We can tell you that if the district attorney makes the decision -- we don't know what his decision will be -- but if he makes the decision to place charges against Bryant, Bryant is to return here to Colorado August 6 for an initial appearance in court.

Anderson, back to you. COOPER: Gary, I also understand there's something of a legal firestorm building about the alleged victim or at least around her. A local newspaper is trying to get some records from police. What are the records?

TUCHMAN: Here's what we can tell you, Anderson. There were two police dispatches to this young woman's house within the last year.

The county and the city of Eagle have decided not to release those records. The newspaper went to court in this building behind me today, where the news conference will be tomorrow, asking a judge to release those records. The judge said he would take it under advisement and won't make a decision until, at the earliest, next week.

COOPER: OK. Gary Tuchman, thanks very much.

Bryant appeared last night at ESPN's Espy awards, as Gary mentioned. He didn't talk to reporters or win an award, for that matter.

Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom is an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. She joins us now.

Kimberly, what's your take on these latest developments?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ADA, SAN FRANCISCO: Really interesting developments, Anderson. And in fact, I think, given the fact that they're going to make an announcement tomorrow, that it's likely we may see charges brought against Mr. Bryant.

And of course, they could range from a sexual battery or sexual assault up all the way up to a forcible rape. The D.A. is going to be looking to see whether there is corroborative physical evidence to support her claims against Kobe Bryant and so that's part of the testing and results they were waiting to get back in.

Also they'll be looking to see whether or not there was evidence of force use against her person to show that this act was against her will versus consensual.

COOPER: The options for the district attorney tomorrow, as I understand it, are three, he can bring formal charges, he can say he's not bringing formal charges or he can announce a grand jury.

NEWSOM: Yes. That's correct. And I think in a case like this, it will be interesting to see whether the D.A., if they elect to file charges, will proceed by way of a grand jury, which, of course, is a secret proceeding. So the press would not be privy to any of those proceedings or information contained here in.

COOPER: And what's the idea behind the grand jury? Simply, they feel they don't have enough evidence to go ahead and actually file the charges so they impanel this grand jury?

NEWSOM: Not necessarily. It was used like that in the case of JonBenet Ramsey. But in other cases the D.A. uses it as an advantage because the defense attorney would not be allowed to be present, would not be allowed to cross examine any witnesses the prosecution would put forward.

So the D.A. would be able to kind of keep their case under wraps and also it could drag it out so they could have more time to put together a case. In some respects it can be used as a fact-finding device or means of getting information.

COOPER: D.A. is in a tough spot. I mean, there's going to be a tough press conference tomorrow if charges are not brought. This man has already been arrested, his name has been out there now for two weeks on this story. I imagine you don't envy him.

NEWSOM: No. And I guess this D.A. is relatively new, and so he's going to be under a lot of political pressure and is going to get ridicule and a lot of comments made against him, regardless of what he chooses in this case.

Here, as you mentioned, a five-time NBA all-star, led the league in scoring last year, just has a $45 million Nike endorsement. He's a man with a lot to lose. He's very popular in the press and seen as sort of a role model for kids in the sports world.

So and again, you have a young woman who they're trying to say has a history of maybe some emotional problems, 911 calls to the house, et cetera, police going out there.

It's really going to be interesting to see which way the D.A. goes on this one.

COOPER: Well, what do you make of this delay? I mean, this has been going on now for quite some time. We have been told awhile ago we were going to get word on this day and then that day passed. We heard nothing. Why the delay?

NEWSOM: Well, the D.A.'s office has been saying that every little bit of information they get in leads to another avenue or another pass that they have to investigate.

The biggest mistake the D.A. could make in this case is rushing too soon to make a decision to file or not to file. They can make a premature decision; it could the end of the D.A. there.

And again these type of cases are taken very seriously by the courts and we've seen punishments, as your reporter mentioned earlier, increase substantially in the years. Keep in mind he also, if he was convicted of any kind of sex crime or forcible rape, et cetera, in this case work have to register as a sex offender.

COOPER: All right. Kimberly...

NEWSOM: Lot of implications.

COOPER: Yes. Certainly we're all going to be watching this tomorrow. I believe it's going to happen around 5 Eastern time. I'm not positive on that, but we are obviously going to follow it very closely. Kimberly, thanks very much.


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