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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Kobe Bryant rape case collapses
Kobe Bryant heads to a pre-trial hearing
Bryant is one of the top-earning sportsmen in the US
A US judge has dismissed the case against basketball star Kobe Bryant, after prosecutors dropped sexual assault charges against him.

The surprise move comes less than a week after the start of jury selection in Mr Bryant's trial in Colorado.

Prosecutors said they could not proceed because the alleged victim refused to testify in court. Mr Bryant still faces a civil lawsuit filed by his accuser.

The 26-year-old star denies assault, saying the sex was consensual.

Mr Bryant, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, is one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the United States.


"This motion is to dismiss based on the sole fact that the victim is unable to continue," prosecutor Mark Hurlbert told the judge at the start of a hearing on Wednesday.

The US TV network ABC said the prosecution "could not have proceeded without the alleged victim in this case".

Despite the collapse of the criminal case a civil lawsuit already filed against Mr Bryant by the woman will proceed, under a deal negotiated by prosecution and defence lawyers.

"I want to apologise to her for my behaviour that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year," said Mr Bryant in a statement issued after the case.

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognise now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."

Death threats

Mr Bryant said the civil case would now be decided "by and between the parties involved and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado".

"No money has been paid to this woman," he said, adding that she had "agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case".

The refusal by Mr Bryant's accuser to testify comes after the judge agreed to a defence request that the alleged victim's sexual activity around the time of the alleged assault be admitted as evidence.

The defence had contended that she had sex with another individual after seeing Mr Bryant - but before she went to hospital for a medical exam.

The alleged victim also received death threats after an error by court officials led to the publication of her name on a website.

"The difficulties that this case has imposed on this woman the past year are unimaginable," one of her attorneys said.

Bryant jury selection kicks off
27 Aug 04  |  Americas
DNA challenge to Bryant defence
26 Aug 04  |  Americas
Cameras barred from Bryant trial
25 Aug 04  |  Americas
Bryant accuser files civil case
11 Aug 04  |  Americas
Not guilty rape plea by NBA star
11 May 04  |  Americas
Profile: Kobe Bryant
08 Oct 03  |  Americas

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