Troubled basketball ace Kobe Bryant is reportedly attempting to pay his alleged sexual abuse victim $5 million (GBP3.1 million) to settle the case out of court.

According to the NATIONAL ENQUIRER, the LOS ANGELES LAKERS star has made two middle-of-the-night trips from California to Colorado to meet with investigators and a lawyer for his accuser.

While Bryant can't pay his accuser not to testify against him, the pay off could squash the rape case against him. In the meantime, Bryant's representatives have also reportedly sought to have the criminal charge reduced.

A source says, "The defence wants to shelter Kobe from the charge of rape and a possible conviction that would brand him a sexual offender for life.

"Their strategy is to co-operate completely with authorities in a legal manoeuvre in which he pleads guilty to a charge other than rape. This kind of deal happens every day in courts across the country. It's a plain and simple plea bargain."

"If the woman agrees not to cooperate further; the district attorney in essence will have no case against Kobe. It would be almost impossible for the DA to get a rape conviction if the victim changes her mind or her story about the alleged assault. Without the woman, there is no case."

The alleged attack on the 19-year-old accuser is said to have taken place on 30 June (03), while in Bryant's Colorado hotel room.

22/08/2003 08:50