We don’t discuss basketball much around these parts, but as I am wont to do from time to time, I’m going to step outside of Baseball and discuss something that’s been on my mind the past few days. There has been a lot of talk the past few days that tonight brings to us the conclusion of Kobe’s farewell tour as well as his career. A lot of people are gushing over all of Bryant’s achievements. The awards he’s won, the championships, the difference he’s made in so many people’s lives.
In July of 2003 Kobe Bryant was charged with raping a young woman in Eagle, Colorado. The charges against Bryant, were he convicted, would have sent him to jail for a lengthy sentence, up to life in prison, potentially ending his basketball career. Remarkably, Bryant played throughout the 2003-04 basketball season, never missing a game for a team or league suspension relating to the rape charges.
Laker fans never booed Bryant during the season, indeed the first time he appeared on camera after the rape charges were filed, he was cheered wildly. Incredibly, Bryant’s jersey sales surged in the wake of his rape charges, climbing throughout the season as his trial date neared and more and more details leaked into the media.
The rape case was eventually dropped, because Bryant’s accuser refused to testify against Bryant. Not so coincidentally, Bryant settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser for an undisclosed amount of money. Kobe offered the following public apology.
“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.”
Bryant repeatedly lied to investigators, claiming first that he did not have sex with the woman, he did not kiss or hug the woman, and that the woman came to his hotel room so that she could show him “where the bears come up to the window.” When he was caught in the lie, Bryant asked investigators if he could settle the case. This was before he was actually charged with anything. Asked why he wanted to settle, Bryant mentioned he didn’t want to have to deal with his wife getting upset. (That eventually cost Bryant a pretty large diamond ring.)
Police ultimately seized clothing in his hotel room that proved the woman was bleeding during the sex and took Bryant to another location to conduct a rape test on him. He would be charged with rape a few days later.
At one point late in the interview Bryant cuts off an investigator who has commented on the accuser being an attractive young woman.
“She wasn’t that attractive,” Bryant coldly responded.
Again, I’d encourage you to go read the entire 57 page document for yourself. It’s a quick read, but an interesting one. As you read the document ask yourself several questions, what if Kobe Bryant’s rape charges happened today? How much differently would it be treated by media and social media? Would Bryant be allowed to play for the Lakers with his charges pending? Should he be able to play? After apologizing and paying his alleged victim off would Bryant’s image recover as quickly as it has? And here’s a final question for you — as Bryant prepares to play his final game for the Lakers and continues his year long goodbye that has led to rampant and unfiltered adulation across the country, how come no other media outlet is even mentioning his rape charges?
So just keep all of this in mind tonight. When the media, the fans, and the celebrities all gather to celebrate the career of a once really great basketball player. When they talk of the 5 NBA titles, Two time Finals MVP, one time NBA MVP. When they talk of the 18 All-Star games, the scoring championships, the famous jump-shot. When they talk of his leadership and his locker room presence. When people get misty eyed and weep over the end of his career. Remember, that one night in Colorado when everyone is giving Bryant a standing ovation tonight. And while you are thinking of all that, think of the following statistics.
- Percentage of rapes not reported: 54 percent
- A woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S.: 1 in 5
- A woman’s chance of being raped in college: 1 in 4 or 5
- Low estimate of the number of women , according to the Department of Justice, raped every year: 300,000
- High estimate of the number of women raped, according to the CDC: 1.3 million
- Percentage of rapists who are never incarcerated: 97 perent
- Percentage of rapes that college students think are false claims: 50 percent
- Percentage of rapes that studies find are false claims: 2-8 percent