Hearing paints Bryant as callous rapist

PROSECUTORS wasted no time painting a picture of American basketball icon Kobe Bryant as a callous rapist who wouldn’t take no for an answer, while defence attorneys showed they would spare no one, even the alleged victim, to keep the NBA star from prison.

Mr Bryant sat stone-faced during a preliminary hearing in Colorado as the woman's story of a flirtatious encounter gone bad came out for the first time, with graphic details of Mr Bryant grabbing her by the neck, bending her over a chair and attacking her at the exclusive mountain resort where she worked.

"You're not going to tell anybody about this, right?" he allegedly asked the woman repeatedly during five minutes of sex.

Mr Bryant's attorney, Pamela Mackey, quickly tried to show the woman's story was just that a story, and at one point suggested her injuries might be "consistent with a person who has had sex with three different men in three days".

That drew a quick recess from the judge but also gave an early taste of what could likely turn into a messy and nasty trial when it is finally held sometime next year.

"The defence threw some serious mud and now we will see if it sticks," said former prosecutor Craig Silverman.

Outside of the testimony of Eagle County Sheriff's Detective Doug Winters, most of the prosecution's case will centre on the testimony of the alleged victim. The only other direct witnesses identified so far are a doorman who told the woman to report the incident and a nurse who treats rape victims.

Still, much of the day's testimony was terribly damaging if nothing else to the reputation of Mr Bryant, 25, who could face life in prison if he is convicted.

Det Winters described in graphic detail for a packed courtroom how the 19-year-old woman said an exciting, chance meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar led to a nightmarish assault that left her shaken and in tears. She said she told Mr Bryant "no" at least twice and he ignored her.

Mr Bryant has insisted the sex was consensual. Det Winters testified that the woman's blood was found on the inside of Mr Bryant's T-shirt.

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