09/08/04 — Victimized: Dropping of Kobe Bryant’s charge was long overdue

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Victimized: Dropping of Kobe Bryant’s charge was long overdue

The Kobe Bryant rape case has been dismissed in Colorado. It happened about a year too late.

For Bryant, it was a year of uncertainty, fear and humiliation.

As a side issue, it was also an expensive year. His legal expenses have probably amounted to millions. And it might cost him even more. The 20-year-old woman who accused him still has a pending civil suit in which she hopes to extract a fortune.

The only significant evidence against Bryant was the word of the accuser.

Once physical evidence came back indicating that she had not been injured in an attack and that she had engaged with sexual intercourse with other men around the same time, the charges should have been dropped. They were not provable.

No one but Bryant and his accuser really knows what happened in that hotel room in Eagle County, Colo., where their tryst occurred. The woman, who works at the resort, said she gave Bryant a tour of the place and then they went to his room, whereupon they began kissing. She admitted that the kissing was consensual.

After that, she said, Bryant forced himself upon her.

Bryant said she was a willing participant.

Who knows? Maybe she was telling the truth. But you don’t convict on maybe.

If circumstantial evidence were to be the basis of a trial, Bryant would have been acquitted. The woman went to his room voluntarily; she began smooching him voluntarily. Those were the circumstances, and her statement that he was the only one who wanted to go further was hardly enough to convict him.

If physical evidence were to be the basis, it was not against him. The medical reports didn’t disprove her story, but they certainly didn’t validate it.

With the selection of a jury under way last week, the proceedings suddenly stopped, and a closed conference ensued. Afterward, the district attorney announced that the charges were being dropped, and Bryant issued an apology that did not admit rape. Apparently a deal had been cut.

Even so, prosecutor Mark Hulbert continued to refer to the woman as a “victim.”

It is just as likely that Kobe Bryant was the victim.

Published in Editorials on September 8, 2004 10:19 AM