The woman who says Kobe Bryant raped her was taken to a hospital last winter by a university police officer because she was “a danger to herself,” the Rocky Mountain News reports. The incident is the second report that’s surfaced about the 19-year-old woman’s mental health. Both reports involve events before she accused the basketball star of assaulting her at an Eagle County resort on June 30. The Vail Daily described both incidents as drug overdoses.
The University of Northern Colorado would not provide more information, saying details on mental health reports are barred from the public. Denver defense attorney Craig Silverman called it “another tremendous development for the defense and a huge blow to the prosecution.”
The accuser’s name has been on the radio in at least 60 cities and posted on various Internet sites, complete with address, phone number and, in several cases, photographs of the wrong women, the Vail Daily says. A judge yesterday issued a gag order that warned those directly involved in the case not to talk about it, but that didn’t stem the flow of media coverage.
News organization’s focus on the accuser is angering some who say the spotlight is making her a victim all over again. The release of her name is an invasion of her privacy, said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan, who is also a victim advocate with experience in several high-profile cases. “All assault victims’ names are supposed to be protected,” she said. “It’s a safety and security issue, especially with higher profile cases. Once they are exposed, they really feel it’s another violation. The victim is revictimized.”
That is not the view in some quarters of journalism. Geneva Overholser of the University of Missouri School of Journalism argues on Poynter.org that “The responsible course for responsible media today is this: Treat the woman who charges rape as we would any other adult victim of crime. Name her, and deal with her respectfully. And leave the trial to the courtroom.” The Des Moines Register won a Pulitzer Prize under Overholser’s leadership in 1991 for stories, with consent, that named a woman who had been raped. The stories followed an opinion piece Overholser wrote for the New York Times contending that the practice of suppressing accuser's names strengthened stigmatization.