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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 August, 2003, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
NBA star in court on rape charge
Kobe Bryant is patted on the back by his lawyer in the Eagle court room
Bryant [left] denies the charge but admits adultery
Kobe Bryant, one of America's most famous basketball stars, has appeared in court for the first time on a charge of sexual assault, in a case that has shocked millions of sports fans.

Kobe Bryant, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, stands accused of raping a 19-year-old college student in the Colorado town of Eagle on 30 June.

Mr Bryant, who is married and has a young daughter, denies raping the woman, but has admitted adultery.

Mr Bryant said little in court during the hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes, and did not enter a plea.

His lawyers waived the right for the charge to be read out in court.

The judge set a further hearing date for 9 October and also expressed concern about the media frenzy surrounding the case.

Scores of journalists have invaded the small town of Eagle, where Mr Bryant was arrested and charged.

Fans shouted Mr Bryant's name as he left the courtroom following the brief hearing, surrounded by lawyers and bodyguards.

Scandal

The BBC's David Willis in Eagle says that although American sport - and basketball in particular - has seen its share of sex scandals there have been few, if any, to rival the Bryant case.

Kobe Bryant
Bryant is one of America's biggest sports stars
The case is fast becoming the biggest media circus since the OJ Simpson trial in the 1990s, our correspondent adds.

Mr Bryant is one of basketball's wealthiest stars, and could stand to lose millions of dollars worth of lucrative sponsorship deals from the allegations.

If convicted under Colorado law, he faces the possibility of life in prison.

Mr Bryant's legal team has already unsuccessfully attempted to have cameras barred from the courtroom.

And some legal analysts have also said that the trial should not take place in such a small town where the potential jury pool is so small.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tory Milne reports
"The accusations have shocked his fans"



SEE ALSO:
NBA star denies sexual assault
19 Jul 03  |  Americas
NBA star asserts innocence
13 Jul 03  |  Americas
LA Lakers star arrested
07 Jul 03  |  Americas
Bryant heir to Jordan's throne
17 Apr 03  |  US Sport
Bryant makes history
06 Mar 03  |  US Sport


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