Kobe Bryant’s accuser should be identified by the media, partly because she filed suit against Bryant and took a “voluntary step further into the public limelight,” says journalism Prof. Geneva Overholser of the University of Missouri. “It is my view that it is standard practice in most media to name both plaintiff and defendant in a civil suit,” she told Women’s eNews. Overholser has advocated naming both the accuser and the accused in rape cases since 1989, when she served as editor of the Des Moines Register. The paper won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for its publication of a rape victim’s personal story that included the victim’s name with her consent. Overholser argues that the practice of suppressing the accuser’s name only serves to strengthen the stigmatization of rape victims, the majority of whom are women.
Overholser quit writing a column for the Florida-based Poynter Institute when the journalism think thank removed the accuser’s name from one of her columns. The institute asked Overholser to provide evidence of a conversation with Bryant’s accuser about being named, which she declined to do. Sarah Graham Miller of the Washington-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said that many who oppose the naming of rape victims without their consent are hopeful that victims will come forward on their own and identify themselves. By letting their names be published, she said, they show the world they have nothing to be ashamed of and they “let other victims know that they are not alone.” Overholser says the media cannot have the wisdom “to decide whom to protect when there has been no determination of guilt of innocence.”