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Bryant Lawyer Accused of Leak

Prosecutors seek probe, saying attorney for the Laker star gave details that ended up in media.

October 24, 2003|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case lashed out Thursday, asking a judge to punish defense attorneys for leaking sealed information and accusing a retired judge of lying to an investigator.

In a court filing, Eagle County Dist. Atty. Mark Hurlbert said it appeared defense attorney Hal Haddon disclosed to retired state District Judge William Jones that another man's semen was found in underwear worn by Bryant's accuser before those details were included in testimony at the preliminary hearing Oct. 15.

Jones was quoted Oct. 11 in the New York Daily News, saying Haddon told him "there was more than one man's semen found in [the accuser's] panties." Although the leak turned out to be inaccurate -- semen from only one man was detected in the underwear -- it was close enough to the testimony of Eagle County Sheriff's Det. Doug Winters four days later for Hurlbert to ask an investigator to contact Jones.

Jones told investigator Gerry Sandberg that he had not spoken with Haddon for 10 years and told Associated Press he had been misquoted. In the article, Jones was quoted as saying, "I have known [Haddon] for 40 years. He was doing some work for me, and he mentioned it to me. It will come out in due course."

In a letter to Hurlbert released to media organizations, Haddon denied the allegations, saying he had not spoken to Jones since the 1980s. Haddon also admonished Hurlbert for not asking him about the leak before filing the motion and suggested the leak might have come from the district attorney's office.

Hurlbert asked the court to order an independent investigation, writing, "Given that few people knew the information before the second part of the preliminary hearing, Jones does not appear to be telling the truth."

According to Winters' testimony, the underwear the woman wore to a hospital examination the day after she alleges Bryant raped her carried the semen of someone other than Bryant.

Bryant, a Laker guard and five-time NBA All-Star, is accused of raping the 19-year-old Eagle, Colo., woman June 30 at a mountain resort. He says the sex was consensual. The case was bound over to trial after the preliminary hearing.

In the filing, Hurlbert also complained defense attorney Pamela Mackey repeatedly said the name of Bryant's accuser during the first part of the preliminary hearing despite a court order asking that the woman's name be kept confidential.

"In the past two weeks, the defense has been on a campaign to get information in the public domain that has been specifically prohibited by the court," Hurlbert wrote.

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It was announced Thursday that Terry Ruckriegle, chief judge of the Colorado 5th Judicial District, will preside over the Bryant trial, with assistance from Judge Thomas Moorhead.

Ruckriegle's first proceeding in the case will be Bryant's advisement Nov. 10 in Eagle County court.

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