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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Kobe Bryant Charged

Aired July 18, 2003 - 21:00   ET

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

NANCY GRACE, GUEST HOST: We are standing by for an LA news conference by the attorney for basketball star Kobe Bryant, charged today with felony sexual assault in Colorado. He now admits to adultery, but Bryant says the sex was consensual. Now, if convicted, Kobe Bryant could face life behind bars.
With us tonight, defense attorney Chris Pixley, San Francisco prosecutor Jim Hammer, Judge Jeanine Ferris Pirro, the DA in Westchester County, New York, defense attorney Jan Ronis, renowned forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee, sports reporter Jim Gray, LA Lakers sideline reporter John Ireland, and Tony Kovaleski of KMGH-TV in Eagle, Colorado, on top of this story since the story broke just two weeks ago.

And as you can see on our monitor, everyone, we are waiting for the defense team to take the podium and begin a press conference, a press conference that has been awaited since about 5:00 PM Eastern today, when it was announced the district attorney in Colorado would press felony charges against LA star Kobe Bryant.

Let me go out to you, Jim Gray, not only an ESPN correspondent, but someone that has known Kobe Bryant since he was a child, in effect. Is that right, Jim?

JIM GRAY, ESPN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. I knew him as a toddler. Obviously, he was around the arena back when I was in Philadelphia, and he and his father left the 76ers. But I knew him as a young man, got reacquainted with him when he was 17 years old. That's correct.

GRACE: Now, at the beginning, Kobe Bryant may be the only guy in America that actually has the presumption of innocence in so many quarters, his image squeaky clean. At the get-go, so many people just could not believe Kobe Bryant was charged with such a thing. Now, what is it about Bryant that makes him so sought after by endorsers?

GRAY: Well, first of all, he's had a level of greatness on the basketball court. He has achieved three championships with the Lakers. He has played tremendous basketball. He's got an infectious smile.

And we see Kobe Bryant walking in right now...

GRACE: Hey, Jim, hold that...

GRAY: ... so I'm sure Nancy... (CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Let's go live to the news conference right there. Kobe Bryant is facing the cameras. He's facing the questions. He's there with his wife, who has already issued a very moving statement that she intends to stand by him throughout this. We are waiting for his defense team. Kobe Bryant's press conference -- we've been waiting all day to hear his response to a single felony charge that could land him behind bars for life.

PAMELA MACKEY, ATTORNEY FOR KOBE BRYANT: Kobe Bryant is innocent of the charges that were filed against him today. He stands falsely accused, falsely accused of an extremely serious crime, a crime that carries with it the potential of a life sentence.

No prosecutor should file charges unless the evidence is so strong that the case can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence in this case falls far, far short of that standard. The accusations in this case cannot be proven because they are false. Kobe Bryant did not assault his accuser. Kobe Bryant will plead not guilty. He will request that this case be tried to a Colorado jury. His defense is that what happened on June 30th in Eagle County was a sexual encounter between two consenting adults. He had no reason to believe otherwise. The physical evidence in this case totally supports his belief.

His actions since these accusations were made have been those of an innocent man. He has cooperated fully with every demand, every request made by the sheriff's office and the district attorney's office.

We do not intend to discuss the facts or the evidence of this case because we do not intend to try this case in the press. We intend to try this case to a Colorado jury, and we are confident that a fair and impartial jury will find that Kobe Bryant is innocent.

Every citizen -- every citizen is entitled to an impartial jury. The sheriff in Eagle County and certain of his deputies insist on making public inappropriate statements, statements that are endangering our ability to select a fair and impartial jury. It must stop. If it doesn't, we will ask the court to enter an order stopping the inappropriate comments that continue to be made.

I want to repeat, we will not try this case in the press. We will try it to a Colorado jury, and we are confident that a Colorado jury will find that Mr. Kobe Bryant is innocent. Thank you.

KOBE BRYANT, LA LAKERS: I'm innocent. You know, I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent. You know, I sit here in front of you guys, furious at myself, you know, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery. I love my wife with all my heart. She's my backbone.

You're a blessing. You're a piece of my heart. You're the air I breathe. And you're the strongest person I know. And I'm so sorry for having to put you through this and having to put our family through this.

You know, I'm a human being. I'm a man, just like everybody else. I mourn. I cry, just like everybody else. And you know, I sit here before you guys embarrassed and ashamed for committing adultery. You know, I could go through the feeling of -- if I could just turn back the hands of time. I love my wife so much. She's so special to me.

But I'm innocent. And together, my wife and I and our family, we're going to fight these false accusations. You know, we have a lot at stake. I have a lot at stake, and that's not just -- it has nothing to do with the game of basketball. It has nothing to do with endorsements, nothing at all. You know, this is about us. You know, this is about our family. And I've been falsely accused of something. And I'm innocent.

Shoulder to shoulder, we're going to fight this all the way to the end. And I appreciate everybody out there for your support, and we're going to need your support and prayers now more than ever. Thank you.

MACKEY: We will take a limited number of questions. Please remember that we cannot discuss the facts and evidence of this case.

QUESTION: When and why did you decide to make Kobe available, as you have this afternoon?

MACKEY: That was Kobe's decision, and he decided that he wanted to come down here this afternoon.

QUESTION: When was that decision made?

MACKEY: When Kobe made it this afternoon.

QUESTION: Was it following the announcement in Colorado?

MACKEY: I'm sorry. It's all a blur, at this point. No, he had decided before that.

QUESTION: Ms. Mackey (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Can you explain in what context she went up to his room? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And also, what did Mr. Bryant tell the police?

MACKEY: Those are questions about the facts and evidence of the case, and I cannot answer them.

QUESTION: Will you seek a change of venue?

MACKEY: We don't know yet. We hope that the -- Eagle County can be our venue, but that is under research and consideration at this time.

QUESTION: Why do you say this is a rush to judgment?

MACKEY: It was a rush to judgment by the sheriff's office, certainly, in seeking the warrant long before any investigation was done. I can't help but think that that affected the decision today.

QUESTION: When did Kobe (UNINTELLIGIBLE) find out about the charges (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: About the charging decision?

QUESTION: Yes.

MACKEY: He found out from me in a confidential situation.

QUESTION: Was that last night or was it today?

MACKEY: Back here.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trial could take place (UNINTELLIGIBLE) regular season?

MACKEY: The minimum timeframe for a trial is four to six months, at the absolute minimum. It's unclear how quickly a jurisdiction such as Eagle can handle this case. We'll just have to see as we go through the court system.

QUESTION: You mentioned it was a rush to judgment. Why do you think it was a rush to judgment? Why (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: What I said was there was a rush to judgment in securing the warrant before any investigation had been completed. I think that affected the filing decision today.

QUESTION: Do you know when Kobe told Vanessa (ph) essentially what happened?

MACKEY: No.

QUESTION: Would you characterize this (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's certainly a decision that we're going to question, his decision to file the arrest warrant before a thorough investigation was done. And we will explore his bias, yes.

QUESTION: Have you had any sort of complications with whether or not -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only from press accounts. But it's my understanding that he did it through the DARE program. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that we're going to request any extraordinary postponements. We'd like to get this done.

QUESTION: Sir, how would you characterize -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I frankly know nothing about his accuser, and I can't characterize her. Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's certainly not a decision that we can speak to.

QUESTION: Can you clarify something you just said? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that they knew each other through the DARE program?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my understanding from press reports, but we have not confirmed that.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

MACKEY: The sheriff and the accuser was the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir? Did you have a question?

QUESTION: Were you surprised that the charges were filed? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) shock you?

MACKEY: Yes. I do not believe the charges should have been filed in this case. The evidence does not support them.

QUESTION: Do you believe he can get a fair trial, given all the media and all the attention?

MACKEY: That remains to be seen.

QUESTION: Do you think the authorities were looking to get a big fish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got one. We will look into their motives. And I think that, in the course of the trial, we'll determine that.

QUESTION: How did he cooperate before (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: He met every demand and every request that they issued. We can't disclose that because it goes to the facts and evidence of the case.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: He knows that he is innocent. And in our criminal justice system, when it works, it does not go against the innocent. The innocent are found not guilty and liberated, and that is our expectation in this case.

QUESTION: Do you believe the alleged victim is (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: I don't have any opinion on that at this time.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the change of venue decision (UNINTELLIGIBLE) meantime, the sheriff is saying in Eagle County? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think that, if the sheriff continues to make statements and express his opinion, as he has in the past, it will affect the venue decision, and we'll be forced to seek a change of venue. We hope we don't have to do that, but we're going to -- we're going to try to take the sense of the community and determine whether or not we're going to have to file that motion.

QUESTION: Are you referring to the sheriff (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sheriff.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll certainly explore that. Three more questions.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: The crux of the case is always the testimonial and physical evidence, and this case is no different than any other.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) relationship between the Lakers and Kobe right now?

MACKEY: I believe that the Lakers are fully supportive. They helped us with this press conference. They've been terrific.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MACKEY: Yes. They called last evening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

MACKEY: Thank you.

GRACE: And there you see a very high-powered defense team is leaving the stadium. This is a press conference set forth by the defense, following felony charges announced today in Colorado, a single felony charge against NBA star Kobe Bryant. That press conference is now breaking up. First, Kobe Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, there at the press conference, followed by the attorneys who then filed in.

With us right now, our entire panel is here. But first, let's go to Jim Gray, ESPN correspondent, a man who has known Kobe Bryant since long before he was an NBA great, since he was a child.

Anything in the press conference Jim, that surprised you?

GRAY: Well, no. You know, as has been his custom, he has come out and answered the questions. He's always available after games, be it a good performance or a bad performance, be it the winning basket or a missed shot. And this kind of follows in line with his character. He's charged with this today. Obviously, it's got to be a brutal day for him and his family to have this charge now resting on him and have to contemplate what it all means. And he comes out and he gives a statement in public. Basically, since 17 years old, everything that he's done is in public, and this seems to be following in character that -- by making this statement tonight, Nancy.

GRACE: Jim Gray, you know, we have been conditioned to expect bad behavior, even sometimes criminal behavior from star athletes. Kobe Bryant was an exception to that low expectation. As we were asking earlier, what is it about Bryant? According to a recent poll, he is the third most sought-after star, celebrity athlete, for endorsements, following only behind Tiger Woods, and of course, Michael Jordan. What is it about him?

GRAY: Nancy, I have tremendous respect for you, but I would take exception to the premise of that question. I cover athletes on a daily basis, and I don't want to be standing up here defending athletes who have made mistakes, who have committed crimes throughout the course of their careers, but most athletes, by far and away a large percentage of athletes in major league baseball, professional basketball, professional football, in tennis and in golf, we don't see this kind of behavior, or we don't see what is actually the premise to your question. So I'm not conditioned to believing that.

Now, in answer to your question with Kobe -- Kobe's infectious smile, his performance on the court, his greatness, the way he has elevated his game and helped elevate the Lakers, along with Shaquille O'Neal, to those three championships, have made him a marketer's dream, have made him a dream of the fans. He answers every question. He's polite. He's courteous. He's philanthropic. He's gracious. He does all the things that all of us who cover sports want him to be.

Now he finds himself in this situation, so it's obviously quite upsetting, disappointing to his fans. But a man in this country with an accusation out there is entitled to a fair trial, a hearing. And right now, they're just charges, Nancy.

GRACE: Well, I think we would all agree that he's entitled to a fair trial and he has the privilege of the presumption of innocence. And what I was referring to is very obvious. When we turn on the news -- of course, it could be the fact that news is normally something bad. You don't hear on the evening news that everybody had a nice day. You hear about people like Mike Tyson or Allen Iverson or Dennis Rodman, not this guy. And of course, the playing field should be level, and the presumption of innocence should be in play. However, very often, we know that it's not. Not so with Kobe Bryant.

Tell us about him. You've known him since he was a child.

GRAY: Well, I didn't know him well as a child. He was a toddler who was watching his dad participate in the practice, and he would be at the arena, at the Spectrum. So you know, it wasn't as though we were conversing when he was a child. I just knew him and of him. Since he has become a professional athlete, since he left high school and jumped straight into the pros, I have covered him on numerous occasions. We've done countless interviews together, and I have never seen this guy in any way, shape or form have a bad public or private moment. So I can only judge him on the way he has treated me and treated those who were around me -- the camera people, the sound people, and everybody who he has come in contact with our group, be it Doug Collins (ph) or Brad Nessler (ph) or Marv Albert or any of the people who I have worked with, Bill Walton, who have seen this guy up close and personal over the course of his professional career, at the games that we cover and the practices that we cover and on the trips and everywhere that we go, and he's been a gem.

So obviously, when these charges came forward today and the reports of the story over the 4th of July weekend, obviously, it was a total disbelief to any of those of us who have come to know him over the course of years.

GRACE: So Jim Gray, you mentioned you had never seen him act badly, misbehave, commit, of course, any type of crime, either publicly or privately. Then were you stunned, were you surprised when he admitted to adultery with a 19-year-old girl that worked at the hotel?

GRAY: Well, it's not for me to get into what he does in his personal life.

GRACE: No, I'm asking you about your reaction. You've known him for many, many years.

GRAY: Well, I think...

GRACE: Were you surprised?

GRAY: Yes, I was surprised. And as he says tonight up there, he sits there embarrassed and ashamed for committing adultery. So you know, obviously, people like myself, and I'm sure those who know him much better than I do, are all surprised, yes. This was not -- this was not within the character of the man who we have come to know.

And making a mistake about committing adultery is far, far different than being accused of rape. And this is just a charge, and right now, with these charges just being charges, he's got to go to trial and he has the presumption of innocence. And so anybody can say anything about anybody, and these authorities obviously feel they have some kind of evidence that they have tested or things that they know. And we're dealing at a total loss here. They have all the information. We have none of the information. So it's hard to come on television and say stuff because we don't have all of the information.

But that's what a trial will do. And as Kobe said tonight, he fully anticipates to fight this thing and to show that he is innocent.

GRACE: When you say they have all the information, are you referring to the district attorney's office?

GRAY: That's correct, yes.

GRACE: But wouldn't Kobe Bryant also have all the information? GRAY: Oh, absolutely, he would. And he just proclaimed his innocence, so...

GRACE: Yes. How will this affect his ability to continue to get big endorsement contracts, even if he's cleared?

GRAY: Oh, I think it's going to have a major effect. I think that it's going to be very, very difficult for Kobe Bryant to retrieve where he was pre-June 30, whenever this actually took place. I believe it was June 30. It's going to be difficult for him to get that back because, you know, people are always going to have an assessment and have a belief of what went on, whether or not it's true. So regardless of the outcome of this trial, those formulations in the public are going to be made.

GRACE: Right.

GRAY: And so I think that's going to make it difficult for some advertisers in the future. But you know something? We've seen other people recover. We've seen other people have charges, and they move on with their life. Will it ever be the same? No. There's probably always going to be in the back of people's minds that this went on. You would hope not. That's not what our country is based on. But you know, that's just the reality of it, and the reality is it's going to be difficult to overcome, regardless of the outcome.

GRACE: You know, I don't think -- what you're referring to is about what our country's based on, such as the Constitution. It's human nature. You know as well as I do, people naturally choose to believe something bad, if they have a choice between the bad and the good. So even if he is cleared, you're right, it will probably linger in people's minds that even if he was cleared, he was still charged with this crime.

Jim Gray, everyone, ESPN correspondent, and has known Kobe Bryant for many, many years.

Also joining us, John Ireland, KCAL/KCBS reporter, a sports reporter there in LA. This has rocked the LA Laker scene. Explain.

JOHN IRELAND, KCAL/KCBS SPORTS REPORTER: Nancy, I tell you, one thing I kind of disagree with is the fact that you said people automatically assume something bad. I think, normally, that's true. But ever since this story broke around the 4th of July, the people in Los Angeles here have refused to believe it. I've spent the day covering this story, and even though that they've charged him, people still say, Well, I want to hear it in court. I want them to prove it to me.

And what that is, is seven years of good will coming back and paying off for Kobe Bryant, for some of the things that Jim Gray was talking about, the fact he's got this reputation, he treats people great, and all those things are coming back now and helping him tremendously. I would tell you, if you were in Los Angeles, like I am today, and you walked around -- I did a bunch of "man on the street" interviews today -- and nine out of ten people said, I still don't believe it. I want to see the facts in court. I want to see it proved.

They now respect the fact that he's come out and said, I committed adultery, but they can't make the leap from adultery to sexual assault. Nobody's going to do that in Los Angeles, at least most people aren't, until they see the trial play out. And that trial is going to get huge ratings here in LA because nobody can believe it until they really see it.

GRACE: Well, John, I've got to agree with you. The initial reaction in most quarters was, when they first heard it was an NBA star, people are, like, yes, well, what else is new? When they heard it was Kobe Bryant...

IRELAND: Right.

GRACE: ... suddenly, it was a completely different story. Everybody's saying, No, I don't believe it. But now the facts are starting to percolate and filter down.

Let's go out right now to Jim Hammer. He is an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. Were you surprised, Jim at what you heard in the press conference tonight?

JIM HAMMER, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO: Well, I was surprised at how good it was, Nancy. I think that press conference was the model for what any person high-profile should do when accused of a crime. He brought his wife, sat next to her. He chose a woman defense attorney to represent him, as obviously not a sexual attacker. But then my thoughts went to the victim. This woman, who has no experience with the media whatsoever, is about to face a full-court press of the best PR people, the best lawyers, who will uncover anything she has ever done in her life, and I really feel sorry for her.

GRACE: You know, what a woman goes through, a 19-year-old woman -- some people would refer to her as a girl -- Jeanine Pirro, in simply even taking a rape kit, can be devastating. Explain, Jeanine.

JEANINE FERRIS PIRRO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WESTCHESTER CO. NEW YORK: Well, there are so many victims of sexual assault who go through the trauma not just of the crime, but of what happens subsequent thereto.

And you know, there's been talk about a rush to judgment by the prosecution. I think it was everything but that. What you had here was a prosecutor who looked at the evidence, who interviewed the victim himself, and I'm sure it was not just to determine her credibility but also to let her know what she was facing. And prosecutors know that victims of sexual assault face more inquiry than any other kind of victim. There will be, as Jim says, a full-court press regarding everything she's ever done in her short life.

And there are questions now about whether Kobe Bryant can get a fair trial. Clearly, he can. He is well liked. He is loved. He's one of my son's heroes. But the question is, can the victim in this case get a fair trial? She isn't conducting a press conference. She is holed up in her own home with her family. She was a girl who was working. You know, there is forensic evidence here. And it wasn't until the DA announced the charge that Kobe Bryant then quick sends out a press release and says that, Oh, by the way, I committed adultery.

GRACE: But wait. The first one was, Jeanine, I did not do this.

PIRRO: Right.

GRACE: I've got it right here. The first one was, Man, there's a lot of crazy stories out there, he said. You guys know me. I shouldn't have to say anything. You know I would never do something like that. But then when the DNA came back, then the response, Jeanine, was...

PIRRO: Well, you know...

GRACE: ... confessional.

PIRRO: DNA is like the finger of God pointing down and saying, You can't get away with it. This happened. So now the question is consent. What do we do now? The first thing you do, if you're a defendant, is you admit to this, and then you always stand there with a wife or a girlfriend, and the jury looks at them and says, Wait a minute. Why would someone married to someone so beautiful do that? And so then we get into the whole issue of, Yes, I had sex, but it was consensual. Now it's a credibility test. How does the victim stand up to an icon in the sports world?

GRACE: When we come back, everybody, we are going out to Eagle County Colorado, with Tony Kovaleski with KMGH-TV. He has been there on the ground from the get-go, and he's got the latest in a story that is developing literally as the minutes pass. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: I'm innocent. You know, I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent. You know, I sit here in front of you guys, furious at myself, you know, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: I sit here before you guys embarrassed and ashamed for committing adultery. You know, if I could go through the feeling of, if I could just turn back the hands of time. I love my wife so much. She's so special to me.

But I'm innocent. And together, my wife and I, and our family, we're going to fight these false accusations. We have a lot at stake. I have a lot at stake, and that's not just -- it has nothing to do with the game of basketball. It has nothing to do with endorsements. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Good evening, everyone. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry King tonight. Thank you for being with us. We have just brought you a press conference with Kobe Bryant and his team of defense attorneys. Bryant, as of this afternoon, it was announced at 5:00 Eastern, is now facing a single felony count of sexual assault -- simple terms, rape -- that could land him behind bars for life.

Let's go out to Eagle County, Colorado. Tony Kovaleski with KMGH TV is with us. He has been there since the get-go. Tony, a lot has been made as to the time line. We know there is DNA. We know the DNA links Kobe Bryant to the victim. But what is the confusion right now are the circumstances surrounding that. For instance, at first it was stated that she was working in the hotel, a very expensive spa/lodge, that she was doing room service that night, and that's how she ended up in Bryant's room. Now there are conflicting reports. Enlighten me.

KOVALESKI: Well, Nancy, you're right. There have been conflicting reports since the very beginning. Some have said that the alleged victim left that room hysterical. Others have said she was off work and went up to the room for whatever reason. We've also heard a report that she was involved in giving him some sort of tour around the facility.

That is really unclear. And it was not cleared up at all today by the district attorney. He said he would not discuss the facts of the case, as you know. The alleged victim is not talking, and her family is also not talking.

So exactly what happened that night is not clear. But you're right. When you talked about the DNA, we knew that last week, because the testing was taking so long, that clearly the evidence showed that there was sexual activity between Kobe Bryant and the 19-year-old. The question has been, was it consensual? And if it's not consensual, can it be proven beyond a he said/she said. The DA today says he has the evidence. He's confident.

GRACE: You know, Chris Pixley, defense attorney from Atlanta, at the beginning, many people were arguing that DNA would be totally irrelevant, that this is a case called a consent case. However, wouldn't you agree, Chris, that if there was no DNA found, then there would be no case at all?

PIXLEY: That's exactly right, Nancy. If there wasn't any DNA evidence, then Kobe wouldn't have to come forward and say I've had consensual sex with this woman.

Now, he very well may have done the same thing. He might have admitted it. He certainly should have admitted it to the police in the beginning. He doesn't want to be telling them one story and then later on when the DNA evidence comes forward, have to tell them something different.

But you're right. Typically, once the rape kit's been used and DNA evidence has been gathered, we know not only whether there's been sexual contact, but with whom. And clearly, in this case, it's with Kobe Bryant. He's kind of taken the wind out of the prosecution's sails by coming forward and saying I had consensual sex with this woman.

The question really in my mind is whether, after looking at the evidence for two weeks, the prosecutors are having a hard time finding physical evidence of force. It took an awful long time to charge this man, and that says to me this is not a case where we've got a victim with black eyes or bruises. I think it's going to be much more subtle evidence, and that makes the case more difficult, especially against a witness who's so well spoken.

GRACE: Jeanine, response?

PIRRO: Well, you know what, I'm sure you know that bruises and black eyes are not necessary or essential to a rape. That's part of ancient history. You've got a defendant here who is six feet six inches tall. And I'm not making any kind of assumption here, but what I do know is this. There is DNA that it matching this defendant to this victim. There are those who say that she was very upset within moments after coming out of his room. There was immediate outcry to the police, rape sexual assault kit. There's talk of torn clothing. There is also talk of blood or skin under her fingernails.

You know, we don't know. We haven't spoken to the victim yet. We won't hear from the victim. She's not selling her story to the tabloids. Right now, we've got to level the playing field a little. We can't say the DA rushed to judgment by the defense attorney and then say the DA took too long. There's a lot of evidence to put together. My kudos to the DA for taking the time that he took to make this momentous decision.

GRACE: Let's backtrack just a moment. Before we begin arguing about the evidence, we don't know what the evidence is. We get a little peek by looking at the back of the indictment. And on the indictment, everyone is normally listed who the state thinks they'll bring as witnesses at this point. There will probably be witnesses added before the trial.

Let's go to Dr. Henry Lee. He is one of the world's foremost experts in forensic evidence. Dr. Lee, what would you expect -- the DA seems very confident. The defense seems just as confident. But what do you expect the DA to bring forward?

LEE: Of course, physical evidence going to be very important in this case. DNA has been proved. That's Kobe Bryant's. However, the DNA, the source of DNA, is that from the rape kit or from her panties, or from the tissue in the bathroom or the blanket? Is those DNA pure DNA, male's DNA? Or have a mixture of male-female gender?

Now, DNA alone only shows the ejaculation. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the rape kit, of course, can prove the penetration. And to say involving force, DNA will not give such an answer.

Of course, if they found the DNA is a mixture of semen and blood, blood DNA, now has some significance. So besides that, the physical injury on her body. Of course, the examination of his body. Any scratches, any injury. As Jeanine pointed out, the fingernails. As forensic scientists, of course, will look at the clothing. Were there any tears, rips, any damage? It can prove physical force involved. The second...

GRACE: And, of course, Dr. Lee, this examination was not just done with the naked eye of a doctor. This was done with...

LEE: With a lot of experience.

GRACE: With a microscope, with a microscopic test...

LEE: Examination for example...

GRACE: ... done with the victim.

LEE: For example, the hair. Any forcible removal of a bundle of hair, that can suggest force, any blood spatter on the bed sheet. Any damage of the furniture. All those can be very important circumstantial evidence. But don't forget, Nancy, let me point out one thing. Look at the time line analysis. They apparently order a movie during that period of time. Of course, what movie they're watching, that become another important piece of physical evidence.

GRACE: Dr. Lee, you are so right. If she had gone up just to watch a movie and meet a star, that's one thing. If they're both sitting around watching porn, I guarantee you the jury will have a different take. Dr. Lee, correct as usual.

When we come back, we are going out to a veteran defense attorney with his take. A veteran of many, many rape trials, that's Jan Ronis joining us. But right now, a quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: But I'm innocent and together, my wife and I and my family, we're going to fight these false accusations. We have a lot at stake and that's not just -- it has nothing to do with the game of basketball, it has nothing do to with endorsements, nothing at all. This is about us. This is about our family, and you know, I've been falsely accused of something and I'm innocent. Shoulder to shoulder, we're going to fight this all the way to the end,

And I appreciate everybody out there for your support. And we're going to need the support and prayers now more than ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Good evening. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV, in for Larry King tonight. Thank you for being with us. Kobe Bryant tonight facing one charge, a felony charge of sexual assault, in simple terms, rape. He's faced the cameras. Tonight, along with his defense team, while a 19-year-old girl stayed in seclusion with her family. She lives at home there in Colorado.

With us right now, Jan Ronis, a veteran defense attorney. We heard in the defense tonight that Kobe Bryant cooperated with police. They did everything they asked him to do, Jan. But isn't the simple truth that they had warrants. They could have forced him to cooperate, which would have been a PR nightmare, Jan.

JAN RONIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. But I'm sure that at the time he cooperated, he probably didn't have the benefit of counsel. You know, I was listening to Jim Gray earlier in the show and I think, although he's not an attorney, he sounds like a real good defense attorney. Really, I think it's going to come down to character evidence, both reputation and opinion. And as Jim said, this man has a wonderful reputation.

And even, Nancy, there would be some people that might suggest that you kind of take a rather strident view of the guilt of people when they're accused of crimes and even you have suggested he's going to enjoy the presumption of innocence. And so that's -- in spite of the fact that we do have a presumption, I think it's really rare people believe that. The only recent examples I know are Martha Stewart, with all her popularity, and, again, Kobe Bryant. So I think that his reputation is really going to serve him well, and Jim's really hit the nail on the head in that regard.

GRACE: Jan Ronis, you're right on as usual. A lot has been made, Jan, that this young woman had tried out for American Idol at some point and had been rejected. You know, that's a new defense on me. I've never heard the, tried to be a success but failed defense. Now how is that going to be used? I think I've got a pretty good idea. Hit me with it, Jan.

RONIS: Well I'm not so sure that's going to be relevant. The judge mentioned earlier, also in the program, that this woman's life is going to be turned upside down and everything about her past is going to be exposed. That's really untrue, because there are laws on the books in all the states that protect the defense from going into the personal private sexual histories of the accused. So I don't think that this stuff is going to be relevant. Now, if it turns out she's made false accusations before against males, then that might be admissible.

GRACE: Jan, hold on just one moment. We are going out right now to two of the young woman's friends who have agreed to join us and speak tonight. Joining us from Colorado, Ashley Scrivner and Shana Sweeney. Hello, young ladies.

You know, I realize that right now there is the case hanging in the limbo, and you are not to comment on anything this young alleged victim has stated to you. I know you have been in contact with her. How is she, and were you surprised? What was your reaction when you first heard about these charges? Let me go to you, Ashley.

ASHLEY SCRIVNER, ALLEGED VICTIM'S FRIEND: I was shocked. I was completely shocked. She's hanging in there pretty well, as well as can be expected under the circumstances. She's a strong person. So she's doing all right.

GRACE: When did you first learn about this, Ashley? And how do you know the alleged victim?

SCRIVNER: I've been good friends with her since sixth grade. We were in cheer leading together. We have basically grown up together. I heard about it about two weeks ago. When I returned from a vacation and reporters just started calling me. That's how I found out.

GRACE: Yes. I see them camped out right behind you. Let me go to you, Shana Sweeney. How do you know the alleged victim in this case?

SHANA SWEENEY, ALLEGED VICTIM'S FRIEND: I've known her for about five years. In the last few months, we've recently become pretty close. She's just always been a good friend.

GRACE: Shana, how do you respond to allegations that this is a young woman who had her sights set on stardom, had tried out for "American Idol", had somewhere along the way -- like most of them -- had been rejected. And that this is some ploy for her to get close to a celebrity and coattail his stardom to her own stardom. What do you make of that?

SWEENEY: That's false. Those people don't know her. She would never use negative publicity to seek fame. She can seek fame on her own. She's really talented. She can push forward on her own.

GRACE: Ashley, is she afraid at all? She's taking on an NBA star, and already the allegations are hitting the fan.

SCRIVNER: Well you know, she seemed very determined, and she's sure in what she said, and we're all there for her. We all support her 100 percent. Not a doubt in my mind.

GRACE: Ashley, how did she decide to go forward and press charges?

SCRIVNER: You know, I'm not sure. I wasn't in town for that.

GRACE: And what is she doing during these days and nights? It must be very tough on her. We know it's tough on Kobe Bryant and his family. But what about her? What is she doing, Shana?

SWEENEY: She's staying at home. She's just being surrounded by people that love her and support her. And she's just dealing with it as best she can. She's a strong girl. She'll make it through it.

GRACE: Ashley, do you think she'll have to go into any type of counseling or therapy, or has she already done that?

SCRIVNER: Not -- no. I think she's strong enough on her own.

GRACE: Is she daring to even venture out to go to the grocery store or take a jog around the block?

SCRIVNER: Yes, she goes out secretly.

GRACE: But how long have you all known each other? I know you knew her through cheerleading. That would be in high school?

SCRIVNER: Yes, in high school. But we grew up together. We've been best friends since sixth grade. So I know her pretty well.

GRACE: Shana, when you first heard the news that Kobe Bryant had been charged, A, how did you find out? and, B, what was your initial reaction?

SWEENEY: I found out . A friend called me. And my initial reaction is I was overwhelmed. My friend is going to be vindicated. I was pretty confident all along. She was pretty confident. So it was just something that was going to happen.

GRACE: So you have no doubt in your mind that she is telling the truth?

SWEENEY: Absolutely no doubt.

GRACE: OK. Thank you, ladies, for being with us.

Right now, we are going to a break. It seems as if her friends and family are just as convinced of her veracity as Kobe Bryant's family and friends are convinced of his.

Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: I'm a human being. I'm a man just like everybody else. I mourn. I cry. Just like everybody else. And I sit here before you guys embarrassed and ashamed for committing adultery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: Good evening, everybody. Thank you for being with us. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry King tonight.

What a night. Kobe Bryant, his defense attorneys flanking him, giving a press conference in response to a single felony charge out of a Colorado district attorney's office that could land Bryant off the court and behind bars for life.

Let me go back out to you, Jim Hammer. Jim, I've been taking a very careful look at this formal indictment, and it specifically says, which it did not have to, Jim, as we know, physical force, physical violence. What do you make of it?

HAMMER: Well, I'd like to infer from that there's some physical evidence they have in the case to corroborate her claim. But as the judge said earlier, Nancy, you know, the vast majority of rapes, especially in this kind of setting, don't have black eyes and, you know, big lacerations and whatnot. The case is going to come down, really, to her statement about it and her credibility.

And in light of that, it's incredibly heartening to see her two friends on there, sweet young women supporting their friend. She's going to need those friends.

GRACE: You know, she certainly will. Right now, family standing behind both parties.

Chris Pixley, that will be incredibley important, when it comes trial time, to have the defense and prosecution, on the front row behind them, the entire family and friends supporting.

PIXLEY: Oh, absolutely, and I think hearing from the alleged victim's friends tells us a lot about how this case is going to shape up. If everyone has this kind of positive feedback about her, we are really going to have a challenge.

But, you know, we don't know anything about the alleged victim other than what we just heard here tonight. What we do know about Kobe Bryant is a wealth of information. And let's be honest, when you spend your late teens and your early 20s under constant media scrutiny, who you are as a person is going to come out. So I think it's no mistake that Kobe Bryant has earned a very good public reputation here. And the alleged victim is going to be up against that.

GRACE: Chris, got to wrap you. Jeannine, I wanted to come back to you. But I'm going to have to say thank you to Chris, Jim, Judge Pirro, Jan Ronis, Dr. Henry Lee, and John Ireland out in L.A. All of you, thank you for being with us.

Everyone, stunning developments in Colorado. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: Hello, everyone. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV filling in for Larry King. Stunning developments in Colorado.

Again, thank you for inviting me into your home.

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