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Kobe Bryant: I didn't force her to do anything against her will'

LOS ANGELES - NBA star Kobe Bryant spoke publicly Friday evening, hours after being charged with sexual assault in Colorado, saying he and his accuser had consensual sex.

Kobe Bryant defends himself during a Los Angeles press conference, July 18, 2003

MSNBC interviews victim's friend and a former prosecutor, July 18, 2003

Bryant fought back the tears at a news conference in Los Angeles. He said he was guilty only of adultery.

"I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent," he said, sitting next to his wife, Vanessa. "I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery."

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert announced the class-three felony against Bryant around 3 p.m. in Eagle, Colo.

Hurlbert said Bryant forced the 19-year-old victim into "submission" through physical force, but he refused to disclose any other details.

The alleged assault happened June 30 at an exclusive spa near Vail. The woman was working at the front desk and Bryant was staying there while in Colorado for knee surgery.

The woman has not spoken publicly about the case.

During the Los Angeles press conference, attorney Pamela Mackey said her client will plead not guilty. She said the defense will be that the sexual encounter was "between two consenting adults," and that physical evidence supports that belief.

Bryant's wife, Vanessa, sat quietly, holding his hand. The couple had their first child in January.

"I love my wife with all my heart. She's my backbone," he said, turning to her.

Vanessa showed her support earlier in the day in a written press release. Bryant also issued a separate release, proclaiming his innocence.

A friend of the victim talked to MSNBC, saying the victim sounded relieved after the DA announced the charge. Rachael Yandle says she's sure her friend didn't make up the charge.


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