WASHINGTON, DC — The Independent Women’s Forum today applauded the dismissal of the sexual assault charge against Kobe Bryant in Eagle County, Colorado. Michelle D. Bernard, a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum stated, “Given the facts and circumstances of this case, one can only state the obvious — the decision to charge Kobe Bryant with felony sexual assault when there was a very real question as to whether Bryant and his accuser engaged in consensual sex was flawed. This case and all that it implies is a travesty beyond words.”

Bryant faced a single charge of felony sexual assault. On September 1, 2004, the Eagle County Colorado District Attorney’s Office dropped the charge against Bryant because the accuser no longer wished to participate in the criminal trial. A conviction could have meant a sentence of four years to life in prison, or 20 years to life on probation and a fine of $750,000. Last month, Bryant’s accuser filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Colorado accusing him of rape. Today, the accuser’s civil case against Bryant, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, is still pending.

Bryant has admitted having a sexual encounter with his accuser. However, he has said the encounter was consensual. It has been widely reported that earlier this week, Bryant’s defense attorneys asked the court to dismiss the assault charge against Bryant on the grounds that the prosecution failed to turn over evidence that could suggest Bryant was innocent. Reportedly, Bryant’s attorneys alleged that a forensics expert whom prosecutors had planned to call as a witness had information that “undermined the accuser’s allegations and the prosecution’s case, and corroborated Mr. Bryant’s defense on a central issue — the cause and significance of the accuser’s alleged injuries.”

“Bryant’s defense attorneys have been harshly judged for raising questions as to whether his accuser engaged in sex with someone after her encounter with Bryant and before she went to a hospital exam,” said Bernard. “However, if, as it has been reported, the prosecution’s own forensic expert determined that the accuser’s injuries could have been the result of consensual sex, her sexual activity in the three days surrounding their encounter was in fact relevant.”

“Whether Bryant’s accuser had sex with another individual right before or right after the encounter with Bryant was relevant in determining his guilt or innocence,”Bernard said. “The detection of the semen of another man in the underwear worn by Bryant’s accuser to her rape exam 15 hours after the encounter with Bryant was relevant in determining Bryant’s guilt or innocence. Whether the semen of ‘Mr. X,’ as he was referred to by the prosecution, reflected a sexual encounter that took place near the time of the encounter with Bryant or was evidence of sexual intercourse that occurred weeks or even months prior to the encounter with Bryant was relevant in determining Bryant’s guilt or innocence. Answers to these questions were paramount to Bryant’s fundamental right to defend himself and the jury’s ability to make a sound decision on the merits of this case.”

Many have argued that the court’s finding of relevance in a very limited sexual history of Bryant’s accuser will have a chilling effect on the willingness of victims of rape to report this horrific crime. “The perversity of all of this is that the civil case against Bryant for rape is still pending,” said Bernard.