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Interview With Mayor Roxie Deane of Eagle, Colorado

Aired August 7, 2003 - 20:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.
Yesterday, Kobe Bryant made his first appearance in a Colorado courtroom on a charge of sexual assault. Some observers say it was two worlds colliding: big-city glitz meets small-town Eagle. But there's also the element of race. The latest census numbers show, less than 1 percent of the local population is African-American.

What kind of impact will that make on the case? What kind of an impact will the case itself make on Eagle?

I'm joined now by Eagle Mayor Roxie Deane.

Good to have you with us. Welcome.

MAYOR ROXIE DEANE, EAGLE, COLORADO: Hi, Paula.

ZAHN: So what is it that you say to folks who see these statistics, and you hear even attorneys in your community saying they've tried dozens and dozens of cases, and they've never seen an African-American in the jury box, and they don't understand how Kobe Bryant could possibly get a fair trial in your town?

DEANE: Well, I really feel that Eagle County and the town of Eagle have very open-minded people. I think we're very accepting. I don't think that he would have a problem at all getting a fair trial here.

ZAHN: And why is it you believe that so strongly?

DEANE: I've lived here a long time. And I know how people react to things. And they're just very fair-minded and objective, and I don't think there will be any problem at all.

ZAHN: Help us understand just how split the passions are in your town. We saw some small evidence of that yesterday when Mr. Bryant made his appearance in the Eagle County courtroom. You had those who wore T-shirts in support of him, saying Kobe is innocent, and then others who are supporting the accuser.

DEANE: I think in any community, or anytime something like this happens, there are people that will make decisions quickly, and decide the innocent or guilt of someone. But I think in general, the people I've spoken to are waiting for the courts to decide and are being very objective about this whole situation.

ZAHN: How do you think your local community views the alleged victim?

DEANE: I think, you know, she is the alleged victim. I think she's a young girl. And I think it's a very unfortunate situation for both of these young people.

ZAHN: And Mayor Deane, is it true that...

DEANE: I think that's how most of the community feels.

ZAHN: Yes. And is it true that she has left town because of the scrutiny that she's had to put up with?

DEANE: I don't know that. I'm not sure of that. I hadn't heard that.

ZAHN: And a final question about what shape your town is in to deal with the onslaught of reporters and groupies that clearly will be drawn to this trial?

DEANE: Well, Paula, I think our biggest challenge will be to try to accommodate the media, to accommodate people who are interested in this case, and still maintain a certain amount of dignity, and be careful that we are not trying to profit from a very unfortunate situation.

ZAHN: Well, you have a big job and a challenging job ahead of you. Mayor Roxie Deane, thank you for your time tonight. And good luck to your town.

DEANE: Thank you, Paula.

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