It’s okay to talk about the Kobe Bryant rape case (Opinion)
Death threats. People Magazine reports that Oprah Winfrey says her close friend and CBS News journalist Gayle King is receiving death threats.
Why? In case you haven't been fully caught up on why Gayle King is Public Enemy No. 1 for a lot of people, she recently did an interview with WNBA superstar Lisa Leslie. Among the many topics discussed was the 2003 rape case against Kobe Bryant. King has since said she feels CBS posting an isolated clip of that conversation led to things being taken out of context.
And in case you're not caught up on the case -- in 2003, Bryant was charged with sexual assault after an accusation by a 19-year-old woman in Colorado. The charges were later dropped, but as recounted in a piece by Nancy Armour for USA today, Bryant said in a statement he'd come to understand why "she feels she did not consent to this encounter.” He apologized to his accuser for the pain she'd experienced.
Bryant died late last month in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and several other people on board.
We should have a huge problem with the amount of viciousness coming Gayle King's way. The same goes for anyone who has brought up by far the worst thing about Bryant's past.
You are not wrong for mourning and praising Kobe Bryant. You are wrong if you go after people who decide to discuss the negative aspects of Bryant's story. What does this say to the hundreds of thousands of women and men sexually assaulted every year in this country? After two straight years of the #MeToo movement, where plenty of victims of heinous acts done by people in positions of power came forward to tell their stories in an effort to put a stop to such abuses, we're already back to turning a blind eye.
We are so confused as a society and it's sickening.
This is a huge part of Bryant's life story. And this could be a very teachable moment for a lot of people. A lesson that people are not all good or not all bad. This incident does not devalue the amount of good he did for underprivileged kids, people in other countries, youth basketball, the NBA, and of course, his family. This does not take away from his prolific career, nor does it cancel out the millions of fans he had.
People in this country are so preoccupied with black vs. white, left vs. right, yes vs. no, good vs. bad, we sometimes forget how multidimensional people can be.
The following is the full statement Bryant issued through his attorney when the case was dismissed:
First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colorado.
I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.
I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.
The civil lawsuit was underway not too long after. Bryant and his accuser settled the lawsuit in March of 2005. The details of the settlement are not known.
According to the New York Post, authorities said the woman had injuries “not consistent with consensual sex.” She also had a bruise on her jawline and her blood was found on the shirt Bryant wore on the night of the incident, police said.
So, draw your own conclusions. I'm not going to force my opinion on something I was not able to witness on you. But this is what has been reported. To pretend the case and controversy simply didn't happen is the sort of thing we did before #MeToo. We should be better now.