Facebook Twitter

Judge bars use of ‘victim’ at trial

SHARE Judge bars use of ‘victim’ at trial

DENVER — Prosecutors, witnesses and other participants in Kobe Bryant's trial will be prohibited from using the term "victim" to describe the woman accusing the NBA star of rape.

In a ruling made public Tuesday, state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said he agreed with Bryant's lawyers that the term implies guilt.

"Its use under these circumstances could improperly suggest that a crime had been committed such that the presumption of innocence might be jeopardized," Ruckriegle said. He said the 19-year-old woman must be referred to by name in the courtroom during the trial, and as a "person" in jury instructions.

Bryant's attorneys had also asked the judge to prohibit use of the term "defendant" in reference to the Los Angeles Lakers guard. Ruckriegle rejected that, saying the term is "an accurate reflection of his legal status."

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the woman at the Vail-area resort where she worked last summer. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation and a fine up to $750,000.

A trial date has not been scheduled.

DR. J EXCLUDED: Julius Erving is no longer a candidate to be general manager of the Toronto Raptors, who are looking for a replacement since firing Glen Grunwald on April 1.

Erving was an executive vice president with Orlando for six seasons before leaving the Magic last summer. Raptors star Vince Carter backed Erving for the Raptors' job, and Erving was interested.

"He's not in the mix," interim GM Jack McCloskey said Tuesday. The Raptors hope to have a GM before the NBA draft June 24.

WALLACE EXPECTS OLY CALL: Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace expects to play for the U.S. men's basketball team at the Olympics in Athens.

"They asked me two weeks ago if I would say, 'Yes' to playing on the team, and I said, 'Yes,' " Wallace said Tuesday night before playing Indiana in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. "I don't know if they have decided what to do because they haven't announced it yet."

U.S. coach Larry Brown, who is also Wallace's coach in Detroit, said the USA Basketball selection committee will have a conference call this week to find replacements for players who have withdrawn from the roster.

"I can't comment (on Wallace), but it would be a wonderful thing if it's true," Brown said.