RAPE CASE Civil lawsuit is filed against Kobe Bryant
A civil lawsuit requires a lower standard of proof than in a criminal case.
DENVER (AP) -- The woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape has filed a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages, a filing that requires a lower standard of proof but might complicate the impending criminal trial.
Attorneys for the 20-year-old woman asked for a civil jury trial and compensatory damages of at least $75,000, with punitive damages to be determined later. For now, both sides said the criminal trial will begin as scheduled Aug. 27.
Like the criminal case, the civil lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Bryant of attacking the woman in his room at a Vail-area resort on June 30, 2003, causing her emotional and physical problems that linger to this day.
Attorneys John Clune and Lin Wood said their client was owed money for pain, "public scorn, hatred and ridicule" she has suffered as a result of the alleged attack. They also accused Bryant of similar misconduct involving other women, but provided no details.
Standard of proof
To win a civil lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove only that it is more likely than not harm was caused by the defendant. Prosecutors in a criminal case have to convince jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant committed a crime, a much higher standard of proof.
Damages for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses in Colorado civil cases generally cannot exceed $733,000. Punitive damages cannot exceed the compensatory award and can be given only if the allegations are proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Legal experts said a civil trial would allow Bryant's defense lawyers to claim in the criminal case that her motives were purely financial. Colorado has a six-year statute of limitations in civil cases stemming from alleged sexual assault.
Claim false accusation
Bryant's attorneys already have argued the woman falsely accused Bryant to gain the attention of a former boyfriend, and that she was given nearly $20,000 from a victims' compensation fund.
"Now all of a sudden it looks like this whole thing was for money. If it's otherwise, then why would she file a civil case?" said Dan Recht, former president of the Colorado Criminal Bar Association. "In my mind, they would never file a civil case without having a strategy of getting the criminal case dismissed."
He also said the lawsuit could hurt the chances of winning a conviction.
"A jury in a criminal case will know this is not the end of the road," Recht said.