Friday, January 23, 2004

Kobe Bryant's Lawyers Play Race Card 

Kobe Bryant's attorneys suggested in open court Friday that the Los Angeles Lakers star may have been falsely accused of rape because he is black.

The comment from attorney Pamela Mackey came during a legal squabble over the notes of a rape crisis center worker who sat in on a police interview with Bryant's 19-year-old accuser. The defense wants access to the notes, a request opposed by the crisis center.

Inga Causey, attorney for the Resource Center of Eagle County, said releasing more details about Bryant's accuser would lead to fewer women reporting rapes. She said rape reports dropped in Florida after William Kennedy Smith was acquitted, a case in which his accuser's medical background was targeted by defense attorneys.

At that point, Mackey urged the judge to focus on the Bryant case and avoid the "political agenda of the rape crisis center."

"There is lots of history about black men being falsely accused of this crime by white women," Mackey said. "I don't think we want to get dragged down into this history any more than we want to get into the history brought up by the rape crisis center."

Until now, defense attorneys had said only that the woman had a "scheme" to falsely accuse Bryant in hopes of winning attention from an ex-boyfriend.

The defense has previously accused the sheriff's office of bias and labeled as racist T-shirts mocking Bryant that were purchased by someone in the district attorney's office.

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