Past Imperfect? A book about the Kobe Bryant case paints a picture of a troubling pattern

February 09, 2004

If a new book is correct, the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case,
which so far has focused on the defense's digging into the mental
and sexual history of the alleged victim, may hinge more on
Bryant's past. Kobe Bryant: The Game of His Life includes a
detailed account of an alleged incident involving Bryant and a
room-service waitress who rushed out of his hotel room in
Portland after a sexual advance last April. The book suggests
that at least two other women were placed in "questionable
circumstances with Bryant," without providing further details. In
the book, none of the women alleges rape.

Game of His Life is short (164 pages), and it's the first book
released by a New York City firm called Revolution Publishing,
which is run by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, 30, a law student who has
worked for the Globe supermarket tabloid and Gannett's Journal
News in New York. Shapiro is also the book's author. And, as he
discloses in the preface, he created a pseudonym, Jennifer
Stevens, as his co-author to stand for other reporters who helped
him. The book, which in general appears to have been solidly
reported, says that Eagle County prosecutors, seeking to show a
pattern of sexual advances, have contacted the women who had the
alleged encounters. (Prosecutors declined to comment; defense
lawyers could not be reached.) The waitress has already refused
to cooperate. "If I get subpoenaed," she told Shapiro, "I'll
testify."

Even if authorities in Eagle get the women to cooperate, the
testimony may not stand up as evidence. Bryant's lawyers would
contend that past indiscretions cannot be used against him, even
as they try to enter evidence pertaining to the alleged victim's
past. (The law allows for different standards for Bryant and for
the alleged victim.) Prosecutors would argue that there are legal
precedents showing that a history of Bryant's behavior should be
admissible.

Game of His Life also describes Bryant's first encounter with
detectives. Asked if the accuser ever said "no," Bryant
hesitated, says the book. When a detective said, "You're not
answering the question," Bryant said, "I'm thinking." After 30
seconds--the book says this is on tape--Bryant said, "It was
consensual." Bryant's manner, if accurately represented, could
hurt him.

It's too soon to say whether the book will be a major problem for
the defense. But Bryant's lawyers are trying to preserve his
image as they defend his case. Game of His Life won't help either
cause.

--Lester Munson

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH NONFICTION? Bryant's alleged encounters could make it into thecourtroom COLOR PHOTO: REVOLUTION PUBLISHING (BOOK) [See caption above]

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