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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
Not guilty rape plea by NBA star
Bryant after entering plea
Bryant's plea was nationally televised
US basketball star Kobe Bryant has entered a plea of not guilty in a hearing over the alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman.

Mr Bryant, a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers has admitted sex with the woman but says it was consensual.

Much of the hearing was held behind closed doors but the plea itself was shown on national television.

Lawyers for both sides have been arguing over the admissibility of various items as evidence in the trial.

Mr Bryant's lawyers have been calling for the accuser's sexual history and mental health to be considered by the trial jury, as they believe this will discredit her claims.

They have also been trying to urge the judge to throw out the secret recording of a police interview given by Mr Bryant. They say he was not informed of his right to remain silent at the time.

Lawyers for Mr Bryant have further called for the woman at the centre of the allegations to stop being referred to as the "victim" - a term which, they believe, implies their client is guilty.

Role model

The next pre-trial hearing has been set for 27 May, when a date for the trial is expected to be announced.

The proceedings are taking place in Eagle, Colorado, where state rules mean the trial must begin within six months of the defendant entering a plea.

The full trial is expected to begin later this summer.

Mr Bryant, one of the top-earning players in American basketball, is regarded by his club and sports sponsors as a role model for youth.

He has continued playing for the Lakers during the pre-trial hearings, frequently jetting between Colorado and Los Angeles.

The BBC's Peter Bowes
"Kobe Bryant has shown little emotion on his numerous appearances in court"

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