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other side of Kobe case...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Public still pillories those who report sexual assault
By Diane Carman
Denver Post Columnist

Friday, July 25, 2003 - For me, the turning point came when I heard that Kobe Bryant's accuser had to sneak out of her house to go to a movie.

After days of watching her friends on TV talking about her character, her intimate relationships, her drug overdose, her physical injuries and the threats she's received, the young woman had to resort to Saddam Hussein-style subterfuge to leave the house for a couple of hours.

Her life is a wreck. And she's 19.

I don't know if I could do it, I told Kathie Kramer, spokeswoman for the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program of Denver. I think I might just mortgage my house and submit to years of counseling rather than report the crime.

And if my daughter was the rape victim, the decision would be even harder.

After this episode, the already dismal statistics for reporting sexual assaults are likely to take a hard fall. Most rape victims will recoil from the prospect of their lives being laid bare by the voracious media.

The message to victims comes through every day in the salacious reporting about Bryant's accuser: If you don't want this to happen to you, shut up and take it.

While we all must wait for a trial to learn of Bryant's guilt or innocence, at least on this point, the verdict is irrelevant. The damage is done.

Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter said he "absolutely" believes what's happened to Bryant's accuser will discourage reporting of sexual assaults.

"Trauma is too much of a euphemism to adequately describe what a sexual assault victim experiences in the criminal justice system," he said.

The shame, the ridicule, the sense of being violated are devastating.

"This case is every victim's worst nightmare," said Kramer. "On her own the typical victim is already doubting herself, questioning herself and blaming herself. She's thinking, 'If only I hadn't done that or gone there.' Then to have the public do the same thing is very disheartening and frightening."

Ritter said the speculation about the woman is "absolutely outrageous."

"There are so many myths that surround acquaintance sexual assault being put out there, some of them even by ex-prosecutors," he said. One involves the significance of the 12-hour delay between the time of the incident and the accuser's call to police.

"To say a true rape victim picks up the phone and calls immediately, that they know when they've been raped, that is just crazy," Ritter said.

Far more common, Ritter said, are the victims who hesitate. "They have a great deal of angst over whether they want to go forward at all."

Most victims never report the crime.

A study by the National Victims Center in 1992 estimated that only 16 percent of sexual assaults are reported. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates the reporting rate among adult rape victims is 39 percent.

After 30 years of legal reforms and efforts to educate the public, Ritter and Kramer said the stigma for victims is still overwhelming.

"You hear people all the time saying, 'I wonder what she did to deserve that,"' Kramer said. And in a case where the accused is a celebrity, the speculation is even more cynical. Often people suggest the accuser is merely looking for a big financial settlement.

Ritter said that scenario is remote.

First, prosecutors are not about to file frivolous charges against celebrities to help someone score a financial settlement.

"We evaluate the physical evidence, the victim's statements, what the accused says about the event and the credibility of the persons involved," Ritter said. If prosecutors don't believe they can persuade a jury beyond reasonable doubt, they don't proceed.

And given what accusers must endure, few would find such a settlement worth it, he said. "To say that someone makes the accusation because she's a gold digger flies in the face of the sex-assault victim's experience in the criminal justice system. It's a very difficult experience."

But the gold-digger theory and the attempts by the media to unearth any personal information that could be construed to support it inevitably will silence other victims.

It's unfortunate, because for those who do report sexual assaults, Kramer said, there is such a sense of empowerment.

Reporting can help a rape victim feel safer, provide access to counseling and support, and enable her to confront the accused in a setting where this time she is in control.

Kramer encourages all victims to report sexual assaults. It's so important, she said.

But then I asked her: If it was your 19-year-old daughter who came home and told you it happened with Bryant, what would you do?

There was a long pause.

"It's a hard question to answer," she said. "I would like to think I'd encourage her to move forward in the process. I'd like to think we'd be strong.

"But, honestly, I don't know."

IMO, ideally even Kobe shouldn't be subjected to this publicity until after a verdict is reached. If he is innocent, I doubt the press will give a 'not guilty' verdict as much publicity as the accusation. But IMO it is cruel & wrong to publicize the name of the alleged victim, or even enough personal details about her life to lead people to her.

Turns out the radio jock who publicized the alleged victim's name has a record himself...check this out: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/leykis1.html

Also, the DA's office has been receiving threats.
post #2 of 3
The other news item that I picked up is that some OTHER poor girl has been wrongly identified by her picture and name on the internet as the accuser. It just so happens that she went to the same high school and has the same first name as this girl. Now SHE is popping up all over the net, along with doctored photos of her head on a nude body. This poor thing doesn't even have thing 1 to do with the case.
post #3 of 3
I heard about that too. The poor girl!
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