The case of forgotten violation of Kobe Bryant: the event dissolved after the sports legend


The reviews and hagiographies on the figure of Kobe Bryant have happened vertiginously after the death of the pentacampeón of the NBA in a helicopter accident next to his daughter and seven more people in the afternoon of last Sunday. The memories (in which the passage of time weighs) and the analysis of the former Los Angeles Lakers player have focused on his legendary track record, but paradoxically, in the midst of the MeToo movement, the vast majority of these reviews have discarded a thorny episode of his life: the accusation of rape of the athlete 17 years ago and that was settled with an economic agreement with the complainant and a thick silence that has barely broken.

It has been in the American press where this veil has cracked something else. The New York Times (who published that a journalist of The Washington Post She had been suspended from her job after tweeting a story about Bryant's rape case) has been the national media that has made a more brief summary of the case.

To do this, we must go back to a distant June 2003 in which Bryant had just injured his knee. Before having surgery, he decides to stay in a hotel in Edwards, in the state of Colorado, near the clinic where he is going to undergo surgery. The establishment includes a Bryant who already has the status of a basketball star, with two NBA rings in his possession and known throughout the world. There he meets a young 19-year-old janitor who leads him to his room and asks him to come back to take a tour of the hotel.

She agrees and accepts Bryant's proposal. After that, the player proposes to enter his room, something he also accepts. Already inside the cabin, the two begin to kiss, extreme that both would accept in subsequent court hearings. The discrepancies began right after: while Bryant said he had consented sex, the young woman denounced him for rape.

The case, being a star like Bryant, had an extraordinary following. Brands such as McDonalds, Nutella or Coca-Cola broke their sponsorship agreements. Soon medical reports leaked that certified wounds in the complainant's vagina, a bruise on her neck and blood stains on her underwear and on a Bryant shirt. The defense of the player was very aggressive: his lawyer broke the anonymity of the woman and blamed her scratches that she would have maintained relations with three men in three days.

The views and appeals followed each other over the weeks and Bryant's image in court began to be a constant, along with the public debate on the case, in which once again (and as in so many others) The key was the need for consent when maintaining public relations and the right to interrupt them at any time. But, in September 2004, prosecutors dropped charges on the player suddenly.

The reason was the complainant's lack of willingness to testify. Thus the criminal route was exhausted, but not the civil one, which had begun a month before. Already in 2005, and without a verdict in between, an economic agreement between the parties closed the case before it ended. The experts consulted by Los Angeles Times at that time they assured that the amount of money would exceed 2.5 million dollars by including a confidentiality clause.

Bryant came to apologize in a public letter to the young woman assuring that “she did not see and does not see this incident in the same way that I did”

After closing the case, Bryant published a letter of apology to the young woman. In it he apologized for “his behavior that night and for the consequences he has suffered in the last year”, recognizing, in addition, that he had discovered that “she did not see and does not see this incident in the same way that I did” and that He understood “how she feels, that she did not consent to this meeting.”

Time passed and, regardless of the confidentiality agreed with the complainant, the truth is that the case was forgotten. The dimension of the athlete, who in the plane of the ballon continued to triumph and expand a flowery medal winners, was so great that it came to eclipse an incident that, in 2003 and 2004, occupied the pages of the American newspapers.

A year and a half before his death, the organization of the Animation is Film festival removed him from the jury attending to the voices that recriminated his involvement in the case of 2003: “This is an urgent time to say NO to toxic and violent behavior against women”. Something that has not happened exactly with the fortuitous disappearance of the athlete.