The outcome of the rape case against Kobe Bryant has sexual assault victims and their advocates worried that it will make women more reluctant to report attacks, the Los Angeles Times reports. “I totally understand why [the accuser] didn’t wish to go forward,” said a rape victim from Denver. “I was worn out by my case. I was worn out by the system, worn out by the process and worn out by the big scary attorney on the other side. I wish for the opposite but I think this will absolutely have an effect on future cases.” Victims rights groups worry that rape, already significantly underreported, will be reported even less. “We have been concerned all along that this case would have a negative impact on women coming forward, but these were also extraordinary circumstances played out in the national spotlight,” said Cynthia Stone of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
At the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program in Denver, “We have seen a 50% increase in clients since last year,” said victim services director Sheri Vanino. J. Kevin Higgins, executive director, said rape is a crime that usually goes “unaccounted for, unpunished and unquestioned. The public has a blind spot about this crime until it happens to them.” Karen Steinhauser, former prosecutor specializing in sexual assault, said, “If I were a sex assault victim and had to decide whether to report to police, and then I saw what [the Bryant accuser]went through, would it make me think twice? I think it would.” An estimated 20 percent or fewer or sexual assault cases are reported in Colorado.