When Kobe Bryant hit the game-winning jumper in the Lakers' 101-99 home win over the Nuggets last Friday night, it did not change the fact that he missed the first quarter because of his required appearance in a Colorado courtroom. There, judge Terry Ruckriegle put off ruling on severeal motions, including whether the medical history of the woman accusing him of rape is admissible.
In the highly unlikely scenario that the evidence is admitted, it could have an impact on Bryant's case, but his fate ultimately hinges on whether the jury believes the sexual encounter between Bryant and his 19-year-old accuser was consensual. Proving consent is notoriously difficult—a fact not lost on Ava Cadell, an L.A. area sex therapist, and Nelson Banes, the owner of the Colorado company Protect Condoms Inc. Prompted by the Bryant case, both, acting independently, hired lawyers to draw up and copyright standardized "pre-sex agreement forms" and are marketing them to athletes.
By signing Banes's form—which sells for $799 and comes with two condoms—the potential sex partner stipulates that she is at least 18 and not under the influence of mind-altering drugs. She agrees to "engage in any and all sexual acts legally permissible" and that "she will not bring criminal charges" against the man. "Athletes are going to carry consent forms just like they carry condoms," says Cadell, whose form uses similar language. "It's another layer of protection." Several players contacted by SI say they would use the contract. "You have to," says Hawks forward Stephen Jackson. "People look at us as targets and try to get what they can out of us."
But because any such documents have yet to be tested in court, and because a woman can withdraw her consent at any time, lawyers question the forms' relevance. "It would not survive 10 minutes in court," says Greg Garrison, the prosecutor who got Mike Tyson convicted of rape. "It is a contract that is written by one side, a jock, to the disadvantage of the other side, the woman."
Still, some think it could greatly aid the defense. Says Larry Pozner, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, "If Kobe had one of these signed forms, prosecuting him would be difficult. The only tiling better would be a videotape. But if you think getting a pre-nup signed is difficult, try getting one of these signed."