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Housekeeper speaks out on Bryant lawsuit

March 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The housekeeper who claims she was harassed and verbally abused when she worked for Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant and his wife spoke out Thursday. Forty-eight-year-old Maria Jimenez claims Vanessa Bryant humiliated her by yelling and screaming at her.Maria Jimenez came to Irvine about a year ago and hired an attorney. In the past year, that attorney and the attorneys for Kobe Bryant have been in communications trying to come to terms about this dispute. They were unable to reach any settlement and so now the matter is headed to court.

With her attorney at her side, Maria Jimenez described how she felt after a day's work as a housekeeper at Kobe Bryant's home, taking orders from Bryant's wife Vanessa.

"I feel so bad," said Jimenez. "I feel like kill[ing] myself ... because I have a lot of stress ... when I get off from my work."

Jimenez is a legal resident from Peru. She says Vanessa Bryant was verbally abusive, using foul language. It was a far cry from how the job started. Bryant, whose seven-year contract is reportedly more than $130 million, agreed to pay Jimenez $50,000 a year, but it was a health benefit that sealed the deal for Jimenez.

"I take the job because I have no insurance," said Jimenez.

"This was an oral agreement," said William Vogeler, Jimenez's attorney. "The Bryants told her that she was insured, that was the term of her employment. That turned out not to be true."

Jimenez needed surgery for ovarian cysts. The cost was $120,000. She does not have that money now and she doesn't have her high-paying job either. She quit because the working conditions were so intolerable.

"I have bills, you know, that's a lot of pressure for me and I don't get a lot of money to pay for it," said Jimenez.

Bryant's attorneys call the allegations false and unfounded. Jimenez says in the meantime, she just wants peace, for herself and for Vanessa.

"I pray for my family, for my friends, for her too, for everybody," said Jimenez.

Jimenez stresses that she never had any problem with Kobe Bryant. She said he is a very nice man. Jimenez is suing for damages, $120,000 in medical bills, about $20,000 in unpaid overtime. They're now waiting for response from the Bryants' attorneys.