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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With George Merritt

Aired July 11, 2003 - 19:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: New reports about the sexual assault allegations against Kobe Bryant. Bryant was arrested last week, of course, in connection with the alleged assault of a 19-year- old hotel employee. Authorities have yet to disclose whether they're going to file formal charges.
"The Denver Post" reports there were complaints about a late night ruckus in the NBA's star's Colorado hotel room. It's also reported that Bryant gave a DNA sample during a subsequent visit to a nearby hospital.

George Merritt is covering the Bryant story for "The Denver Post." He joins us from Eagle, Colorado. George, thanks for being with us. What's the latest in the investigation you can tell us about?

GEORGE MERRITT, DENVER POST: Well, basically, we were able to learn through a source that a complaint was called in from a room nearby Bryant's room, that some staff responded to that, that the victim then came out of the room and was visibly upset.

We've also been able to learn that later that day and actually just a few hours later, hours later, that Bryant was very calm and actually very friendly and had conversations with several guests that night, late into the night, and all throughout the next day.

COOPER: And what do you know about this DNA test that he apparently voluntarily gave?

MERRITT: All we've been able to confirm is that he did give a DNA sample to the sheriffs at a local hospital here.

COOPER: In -- I know you've been reporting this thing very closely. Do you think Kobe Bryant has been treated differently than any other alleged suspect would be, or a suspect might be?

MERRITT: It seems as though they're working very hard to make sure that that doesn't happen. However, you know, it's -- it's very difficult with someone with a star power name like Kobe Bryant to keep things under wraps. There's media here from all over the country, and it's very hard for a small town to maintain this at a level where it is the same for everybody else.

COOPER: All right. George Merritt, appreciate you joining us. You've been following this story probably closer than anyone else from Denver, and we appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you.

MERRITT: Thanks a lot.

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