2021-02-26 23:50:34 UTC
last time. And during this, his 20th and final NBA season,
Bryant has received an extended valediction fit for a king,
replete with celebrations, movie-star commercials, and unanimous
praise from basketball stars past and present. His professional
résumé is, of course, indisputable. Bryant is an 18-time All-
Star, 12-time member of the All-Defensive team, and five-time
NBA champion. He will go down as the second-best shooting guard
in NBA historybehind His Airnessand one of the Top 20 players
to ever set foot on the hardwood.
But when taking into account the entire breadth of Bryants
tenure in the spotlight, the personal and professional, there
will always be one giant question mark, one disturbing episode
that gives even the most ardent admirers of the Black Mamba
considerable pause: the rape case.
The Kobe Bryant rape case has, in the annals of popular culture,
been reduced to something of a punchline due to the
aftermathnamely, Bryants $4 million, 8-carat purple diamond
apology ring that he gifted to his wife, Vanessa. But what
exactly transpired on the night of June 30, 2003, at the Lodge &
Spa at Cordillera, in Colorado, may always be a mystery. Despite
being charged with sexual assault and false imprisonmentfacing
life in prisonand tearfully confessing to committing adultery
with his 19-year-old accuser, Bryants case never made it to
trial. On Sept. 1, 2004, one week before opening statements were
to be made, the case was dismissed after the accuser, who had
been dragged through the mud for months by the media and
Bryants defense team, informed the court that she would not
testify. The woman had filed a separate civil suit against
Bryant, and had agreed to dismissal of the sexual-assault charge
against him provided the athlete issued the following apology to
his accuser, which was read in court by Bryants attorney:
First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved
in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior
that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past
year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me
personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I
also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to
my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of
Eagle, Colo. I also want to make it clear that I do not question
the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this
woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used
against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this
encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she
did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.
After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney,
and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels
that she did not consent to this encounter. I issue this
statement today fully aware that while one part of this case
ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case
against me will go forward. That part of this case will be
decided by and between the parties directly involved in the
incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on
the citizens of the state of Colorado.
The accusers civil suit against Bryant was ultimately settled
in March 2005, and terms of the settlement were undisclosed (the
total amount civil juries in Colorado could award at the time
was $2.5 million). And the accuser, it should be noted, came
from a wealthy family.
The Daily Beast has reviewed the legal and court documents of
the Kobe Bryant rape case, including testimony from the accuser,
then 19, and Bryant, then 24, which shed some light on what may
have happened that night.
Last night I was at work and I was sexually assaulted. So
begins the accusers version of the events that took place the
night of June 30, 2003, according to the police transcript of an
interview taken with her the following day by Det. Winters and
Deputy Rich of the Eagle County Sheriffs Office in Eagle,
The accuser, who is white, said she arrived late to work at the
Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, a resort in Edwards, Coloradobetween
Eagle and Vailat around 2 p.m. on June 30. At around 4 p.m.,
she said she received a call from a travel agent checking in on
a reservation for Javier Rodriguez, and the agent divulged
the information to me that it was actually Mr. Bryant. And that
it was very important that we got him and his two companions a
room. So, there were three rooms all together. The other rooms
were being held under the names Joe Carlson and Mike Ortiz,
who were in Bryants entourage. The accuser, who worked at the
front desk, was scheduled to be off at 7 p.m., but told officers
she stayed later because I was excited to meet Kobe Bryant,
and that she was trying to make up the extra hours that she
missed by not getting to work on time (her work day was supposed
to begin at 11 a.m.).They showed up around 9:45, 10:00. I met
Mr. Ortiz um, met Mr. Bryant and they asked me to escort him to
his room, she told police. When they got to the room, she says,
Bryant made a request: Mr. Bryant asked me, kinda in private if
I would come back in 15 minutes and give him a tour of the
hotel. And I said that I would.
The accuser says she returned to his room around 10:30 p.m., and
then showed Bryant the resorts on-site facilities, including
the spa, exercise, room, outdoor pool, and outdoor jacuzzi. She
claims the tour portion was witnessed by Bob Pietrack, the
bellman and a high-school friend of the accuser. Then, the two
allegedly returned to Bryants room, sat down, and talked.
We were talking and [Bryant] asked me to open the jacuzzi for
him, she told police. I told him that my shift was over and I
was gonna go home. He proceeded to try and convince me to come
back in 15 minutes, which I told him I would just so I could get
out of there and then I was just gonna leave and not come back.
Um, I stood up to leave, he stood up, asked me to give him a
hug. I gave him a hug and he started kissing me and I let him
kiss me. And the kissing continued then he took off his pants.
And thats when I tried to back up and leave. And thats when he
started to choke me.
Asked by police what she was thinking at the time, she
responded, I was thinking that his actions were getting
physical, and that I wanted to get out of the room. She
estimates the kissing lasted for five minutes, and that that
part was consensual. What happened after, she says, was not. He
started, um, groping me, I guess Id say, she told officers.
Putting his hands on me, grabbing my butt, my chest. Trying to
lift up my skirt. Proceeded to take off his own pants. Trying to
grab my hand and make me touch him.
I told him once that I needed to leave, she added. He didnt
say anything. If he did [hear me] he didnt make any gestures or
anything that would let me know that he did.
At this point, the accuser told police that Bryant began to get
rough with her: When he took off his pants thats when I
started to kinda back up, and try to push his hands off me and
thats when he started to choke me. He wasnt choking me enough
that I couldnt breathe, just choking me to the point that I was
Bryant then, she told police, began grabbing and rubbing her
vagina over her panties. That lasted two to three minutes, and
during that time I was trying to uh, pull away. Then, she says,
he grabbed her neck with both arms. She claims that she didnt
say anything to him at this time, but he knew she was trying to
leave because I kept trying to back away and move towards the
According to the accuser, Bryant put his body between her and
the door. I try and walk to the side, and he would walk to the
side with me. And thats when he started to put his hands on my
neck, she said, adding, He was groping me, I tried to leave,
tried to break away, thats when he grabbed my neck. And at that
point I was just looking at him, didnt know what to do, didnt
know what to say.
Then he held me by my neck and physically forced me over to the
side of the couch, she continued. Thats when he continually
had one hand around my neck and with his other hand pushed me
over to the side of the two chairs um, turned me around and bent
me over and lifted up my skirt. She told police that at that
point I was just kinda scared and I said no a few times, adding
she said no when he lifted up my skirt and again when he took
off my underwear.
When asked by police how she knew Bryant had heard her, she
replied, Because every time I said no he tightened his hold
The accuser said that, with one arm still around her neck,
Bryant would lean his face real close to me and ask me
questions. The question: Youre not gonna tell anybody right.
I said no. And he didnt hear me or asked me to say it louder.
Wanted me to turn around and look at him while I said it, she
told police. She said that Bryant asked her the question three
or four times, and her response every time was no because I
was scared that if I told him yes, Im gonna tell somebody, Im
gonna get out of here now, that he would become more physical
with me. Or try harder to keep me in there.
And then, she said, he lifted up my skirt, took off my
underwear and, and came inside me. She continued: Thats when
he kept coming inside me and then he leaned his face toward mine
and asked me if I liked it when a guy came on my face, I said
no. Then he was like what did you say. Grabbed and like
tightened his hold on my neck, I said no. He said he was gonna
do it anyway. And then at that point I got a little bit more
aggressive with him and tried to release his hands from my neck.
And he was still behind me and at that point hes still choking
me, I was not trying as hard as I could of to get away, but I
was still trying.
The penetration, she told police, lasted about five minutes,
during which time she was crying, saying that the crying began
when he was coming inside, or started having sex with me.
During the sex, Bryant reportedly said, I like Vail, Colorado.
When I started to get a little bit more aggressive, tried
harder to get away, thats when he stopped, she said. I stood
up and turned around and he forced me to stay in the room until
I had calmed down a little bit. Made me fix my hair and wash my
Afterward, she told officers that Bryant issued her a warning.
[This] is just between the two, the two of us nobody is gonna
know about this, youre not going to tell anybody. Not asking me
just telling me.
Bryants version of the events differed from the accusers. He
was questioned by police at around 11:30 p.m. the day after the
alleged sexual assault at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera.
Um, she showed me around the pool, showing me around, um, we
went to my room, she showed me the back view where the bears
come up to the window, and thats about fucking it, we shot the
shit and that was it, Bryant told police. He then denied three
times that anything had happened with the woman to police, and
when informed that the accuser had made an allegation of sexual
assault against him, told the officers, Is there any way I can
settle this whatever it is, I mean ? asked Bryant. If my wife,
if my wife found out that anybody made any type of allegations
against me, she would be infuriated.
When police informed him that the accuser had submitted to a
physical exam and theyd taken semen and blood evidence from her
person, Bryant admitted that the two had sex. Uh, this is what
I need to know because uh, I did have sexual intercourse with
her, said Bryant, adding, It was totally consensual.
Bryant told the officers that when he and the accuser got back
to the room, she showed him her back tattoo and then kissed him,
and they began to kiss. When the officers asked Bryant whether
she said no or resisted, Bryant replied, OK. Im thinking, Im
thinking, Im thinking. (Pause.) Im trying to think of the
conversation we had.
He admitted that he held [the accuser] from the back and that
the sex lasted about five minutes.
The officers then asked Bryant, Did you ever ask her if you
wanted, if you could cum in her face? Yes, Bryant replied,
adding, Thats when she said no. Thats when she said no.
Thats when she said no.
Bryant contended that the woman gave him oral sex for
approximately five seconds prior to the sex, and that
everything was consensual.
At one point, when police described the accuser as attractive,
Bryant corrected them. She wasnt that attractive, said
Bryant. Then, when officers asked him about finishing, he
replied, I didnt finish a fucking thing, adding, I jerked
off when she left. When asked by officers if hed ever cheated
on his wife before, Bryant replied, Um, yes, with one other
person. And she could actually testify I do that um, I do the
same thing, I hold her from the back, I put my hands
Her name is Michelle, continued Bryant, adding shes a
frequent partner of his.
Police then inform Bryant that the accuser has a bruise on her
neck, to which he replied, Yeah I mean thats you know me and
Michelle, thats what we, we do the same thing, said Bryant.
When officers ask Bryant how often he has sex with Michelle,
he replies, A lot. Shell tell you the same shit.
In a supplemental police report, Det. Winters described a
strange encounter with Bryant in which he hurled a T-shirt
containing semen into the officers face. The accusers name is
During our conversation with Bryant, we asked him since he
didnt ejaculate in [redacted] if he ejaculated later. Bryant
stated he did, read Det. Winters report. We asked Bryant
where did he ejaculate. He stated he ejaculated onto a white T-
shirt after [redacted] left. We asked Bryant if we could have
that T-shirt. He agreed. I remember Detective Loya following
Bryant into Bryants room and I followed them. I did not see
where Bryant got the T-shirt from. However, Bryant stated that
the T-shirt he was holding was the T-shirt he ejaculated into.
He then threw the T-shirt at me. I told Bryant not to throw it
at me because I would come pick it up in a safe location. I
caught the T-shirt around the neck region. Bryant told me he
didnt shoot it that far up. Meaning he didnt ejaculate that
far up the T-shirt.
And in another supplemental report in Bryants case file, he
chose to invoke Shaquille ONeals name during the
investigationfor reasons unclear.
According to the police report, while he was being questioned by
the officers about the alleged sexual assault, Bryant said, I
should have done what Shaq does, adding, Shaq gives them money
or buys them cars, he has already spent one million dollars.
The report added, Kobe stated that Shaq does this to keep the
On July 12, Bryant issued his first statement about the case to
the Los Angeles Times, saying, When everything comes clean, it
will all be fine, youll see. But you guys know me, I shouldnt
have to say anything. You know I would never do something like
that. Four days later, he made his first public appearance
since the allegations emerged, walking the red carpet with his
wife Vanessa at the ESPY Awards at Hollywoods Kodak Theatre.
And on July 18, after he was formally charged with sexual
assault and false imprisonment, Bryant held a news conference
where, with his wife by his side, he contested the charges
I didnt force her to do anything against her will. Im
innocent, he said. I sit here in front of you guys furious at
myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery.
During the preliminary hearing, Det. Winters testified that the
accuser had been examined the day after the alleged assault by
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at the Valley View
Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
[The nurse] stated that there were several lacerations to the
victims posterior fourchette or vaginal area, and two of those
lacerations were approximately one centimeter in length,
testified Det. Winters. And there were many, I believe, 2
millimeter lacerations. Too many to count [The nurse] stated
that the injuries were consistent with penetrating genital
trauma. That its not consistent with consensual sex.
Det. Winters further stated that the nurse told him the vaginal
injuries had most likely occurred within 24 hours, and that
the accuser had a small bruise on her left jaw line. Also,
that examiners had found blood excretions on Bryants T-shirt
to about the waistline. The blood, testified Det. Winters, had
the same DNA profile as the victim in this case.
Bryants defense team, on the other hand, brought up the
accusers past sexual history. The accuser stated that shed had
consensual sex on June 27 or 28, and when the panties she wore
to her medical exam the following day were tested, they found
semen and a hair follicle that did not belong to Bryant. These
were, for clarification purposes, a separate pair of panties she
put on and wore to her examnot the panties from the night in
question, which were collected and tested separatelyand the
accuser claimed shed accidentally put on a pair of dirty
panties for the exam. Bryants defense team claimed that the
vaginal trauma suffered by the accuser could have been from
having multiple partners in a short time span, though Det.
Winters had testified that a nurse told him the injuries had
likely occurred in the past 24 hours.
Furthermore, Bryants defense team focused on how the accuser
admitted she was excited to meet Bryantallegedly requesting
an autograph of him prior to the alleged sexual assaultand
called the accusers mental state into question. Authorities
claimed that Bryants accuser had been hospitalized four months
prior to the alleged sexual assault, and when campus police
arrived to her dormitory at the University of Northern Colorado,
they determined she was a danger to herself. A former friend
of the accusers, who said shed lived with the woman before
they had a falling out, told authorities that the accuser had
tried to commit suicide twice before the alleged sexual assault
by attempting to overdose on sleeping pills, reported the
We may never know what happened in that hotel room between Kobe
Bryant and his accuser. But we do know that in the wake of the
rape case, after losing endorsement campaigns with McDonalds
and Nutella, and being benched by Nike, Bryant resumed his
status as lucrative pitchman in July 2005, when Nike began using
photos of the athlete for the first time since the assault
Of the decision to bring Bryant back into the fold, Nike
spokesman Rodney Knox told USA Today, Nike agrees with most NBA
observers that Kobe ranks among the very best players in the
He's still a fucking rapist.