Kobe Bryant Faces Felony Sexual Assault Charge

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Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been charged with one felony count of sexual assault. Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert made the announcement this afternoon at a packed news conference.

Bryant turned himself in and was arrested July fourth after a 19-year-old woman told police he had assaulted her four days earlier at a Colorado resort. Bryant is free on 25-thousand dollars' bail. He's told the Los Angeles Times he ``would never do something like that.''

Hurlbert says he reviewed case law as well as testimonial and physical evidence. He says, ``It's been a rather trying couple of weeks.'' Bryant is scheduled to appear in court August sixth. Hurlbert asked the news media to ``respect' the woman's privacy.

Reporters have swamped the cul-de-sac where she lives with her parents, but she has said nothing publicly. Her family has consulted an attorney.

Kobe Bryant and his wife made the following statements shortly after charges were filed.

Bryant's statement:
``I am innocent of the charges filed today. I did not assault the woman who is accusing me. I made the mistake of adultery. I have to answer to my wife and my God for my actions that night and I pray that both will forgive me. Nothing that happened June 30th was against the will of the woman who now falsely accuses me. These false allegations have hurt my family. I will fight against these allegations with all my strength. My wife is the strongest person I know. She is willing to stand by me despite my mistake. That means everything to me. I have so much to live for. And by that I do not mean the contracts, or the money, or the fame. I mean my family. I will fight for them. I appreciate all those who have supported me. Thank you for believing in me. My family and I are going to need your support and prayers now more than ever.''
Vanessa Bryant's statement:
``I know that my husband has made a mistake -- the mistake of adultery. He and I will have to deal with that within our marriage, and we will do so. He is not a criminal. I know that he did not commit a crime, he did not assault anyone. He is a loving and kind husband and father. I believe in his innocence. Because I know him to be innocent, I will stand by him and we will face this together. I will give him all the strength and support he needs to face these false accusations. I will not let him face these accusations alone. I know Kobe better than anyone. The great person you see on the court and in the public is a far greater person off the court.''