The suit, named “Jane Doe vs. Kobe Bryant,” was filed in federal court in Denver, just 17 days before the criminal trial is set to start, on August 27.
It alleges Bryant raped the woman, then 19, in his hotel room, restraining her “with force and violence against her will by choking her with his hands around her neck while bending her over a chair in the hotel room.”
The accuser filed the suit under the name “Jane Doe” to “protect against acts and threats of physical harm to her person and to protect her significant privacy interests, including information of a highly sensitive and personal nature,” the suit says. (Civil complaint)
Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He has said the two had consensual sex in his hotel room at a Colorado resort on June 30, 2003.
Last week, John Clune, an attorney for the accuser, said mistakes made by court officials in releasing the accuser’s name and other information on a Web site and in e-mails have made it “difficult to proceed with the case” and caused her to lose “faith in the court system.”
There was no immediate indication Tuesday that the woman would be withdrawing from the state’s criminal case. But CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said it is highly unusual for a civil suit to be filed before the criminal case is completed.
The Associated Press reported that the woman’s attorneys asked for a jury trial and compensatory damages of at least $75,000, with punitive damages to be determined later.
A criminal case requires a higher standard of proof to convict — beyond a reasonable doubt — and punishment can involve prison time. A civil case has a lower standard of proof — a preponderance of evidence — and punishment is usually a monetary award.
The judge in the criminal case has imposed a gag order, prohibiting trial participants and their attorneys from talking to reporters.
If convicted in a criminal trial, Bryant could be sentenced to four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and fined up to $750,000.