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naming names: why the Bryant case is different

There seems to be some confusion over the issue of whether I think the identity of Kobe Bryant's accuser - or anyone who accuses someone of rape - should be made public.

I never stated an opinion either way. People just assumed that because I was not posting the pictures or the URL to any sites that have the pictures, address or name of the accuser that I was taking a stand against it. The only stand I took was that you would not be able to find those items here.

For example, Lemondust states:

This blog [A Small Victory] is run by a right wing feminist. I think. Anyway, I found her while looking for commentary on Kobe Bryant. She is against publishing the pictures of the accuser.

I replied (after stating that I am in no way, shape or form a feminist):

It's not that I'm against whatever the people coming to my site were looking for; I was just making the point that they weren't going to find it there. Judging from my comments and email on the matter, most of the searchers wanted the pictures for nefarious reasons: they wanted to find her and humiliate her. Just as Kobe is innocent until proven guilty, the accuser is to be believed until proven a liar. I make no stand on the case. I just make a stand on who so admire a sports star that they are willing to stalk a woman accusing that sports star of rape.

Over at So Cal Law, there's a discussion on the subject which states, in part:

A Small Victory is having trouble with Kobe trolls visiting her site looking for pictures, names and other details associated with Kobe's accuser. Based on some of the comments I have received on this site, I can understand her frustration. On the other hand, re-posting the very offensive terms that drove people to her site is the surest way to increase web traffic of people looking for those terms.

Once again, I don't care if they come here, I just wanted them to know that they would not find what they are looking for.

So Cal Lawyer feels this way about announcing an accuser's identity:

Rape is not comprable to other crimes. It is vastly under reported compared to other crimes. Moreover, other crimes do not entail as much "victim blaming." For example, nobody tells a carjacking victim who drives a nice looking car that he/she was asking for trouble. Finally, the adverse consequences to any victim who falsely or truthfully reports a rape (via having a defense attorney question every aspect of the victim's life before, during and after the rape), is likely a big deterrence to not bring false accusations.

There's also a previous post here.

I agree that making it a policy to name the identity of one who accuses someone of rape will only serve to make less rape victims come forward. Rape is a degrading crime. To have your name splattered in the newspaper as a victim of such a crime would be adding insult to injury, making the victim feel even worse about a crime that so often is compounded by unecessary guilt.

However, until the rape claim is substantiated, you can also say the same for the accused. But I hardly think that saving face for the narrow amount of fake rape claims reported will somehow outweigh the humiliation and degradation suffered by real rape victims.

The fact is, this case is different. Here, you have a celebrity with a huge, loyal, rabid following. The reasons for many of these people wanting to know the name of the accuser is so they can harass her. Just look at my comments on any of these posts. Go do a search and find any website that defends Kobe and you'll see what I mean. There are people looking for address so they can stalk her, wait for her to come out of her house and hurl insults at her. There are people who want to physically harm her. They want her email address to send her threatening letters and the only reason they want to see photos of her is so they can post the photos themselves while captioning them with insults.

Bryant's fans - at least this portion of his fans - have already determined that he is innocent. They would rather see this woman dead then see their team play without their hero. Now, that's a sad statement. And that is why I believe this woman's name should not be made public. Of course, it's too late for that, but you will not find that information here, ever.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference naming names: why the Bryant case is different:

» Right Wing Feminism from Lemondust
This post in a Small Victory uses my previous post here to discuss the pro and cons of publishing those... [Read More]

» For Michele from Ain't too proud to blog
... [Read More]

» The Bryant Case: Outing the Victim from Lead and Gold
The alleged victim, however, has none of these advantages. The legal and moral protections victims are usually given have been stripped away by fat, sanctimonious pigs like Leykis. It may be inevitable but it is neither fair nor right. [Read More]

» It’s Wacky Wednesday! from The Mighty Yog Blog
That’s right folks, it is the time of the week for real wackiness to begin! This Wednesday is more stubborn than Joelle’s burrito, more nutritious than Busy Mom’s beef jerky, more kosher than Gingersmack’s pickle, more pop than Moxie’s popcorn, [Read More]

Michele and Craig are both concerned about the privacy of the accuser in the Kobe Bryant case and find it outrageous that there are those... [Read More]

Some other people and I have been getting a lot of hits from people looking for pictures of Kobe Bryant's [Read More]

» Naming Names from MediaReview
It's an age-old debate in journalism: whether to name the name of the victim in a rape case. Tim Porter, Geneva Overholser and Howard Kurtz think so. Others at the Poynter Institute don't agree. I don't think the name of... [Read More]

» It's Wacky Wednesday! from The Mighty Yog Blog
That's right folks, it is the time of the week for real wackiness to begin! This Wednesday is more stubborn than Joelle's burrito, more nutritious than Busy Mom's beef jerky, more kosher than Gingersmack�s pickle, more pop than Moxie's popcorn,... [Read More]


Michele, are you sure you're not a feminist? I don't mean the way Patricia Ireland is or anything, but, let's see: you're smart, you take no shit, and I would NOT want to be the guy in the office to ask you to bring me coffee.

I would say you're no feminazi, but I like to think those two things are different.

And, on the other edge of the sanity spectrum from Michele-- Tom Leykis, LA radio talk show host, makes me temporarily ashamed to populate the planet. Here are a few quotes from the one guy who is throwing the victim's name out on the airwaves:

"We're told that rape is violence, not sex, and if that's true there's no reason she should feel shame or embarrassment"

"It's another case where you build up a wall so they can hide behind it and throw stones," Leykis said. "All you're doing is enforcing the old stereotype that it's something to be ashamed of. It's not any more reason to be ashamed than being behind a cash register at Denny's and being held up."

Nicely done.

I agree with ilyka - Michele fits very well into my idea of what feminism OUGHT to be.

The idea in our culture that the only progress yet to be made for women is way out on the far left is just flat wrong, as this sorry Kobe Bryant situation amply demonstrates. The radicals do not have any creator-given right to define feminism on their own terms - it's time for the rest of us to send them packing.

Amen, sister. I personally find it funny that these comments are made by MEN. They wouldn't understand what it means to be a women, therefore, they should keep thier mouths shut. Rape, whether he did it or not, is very serious. It is unfortunately, something women have to think about in their lives. Its not fun. Its not a joke. It is very serious.

I wonder how embarassed these men would be if they were anally raped or forced to perform oral sex? It's a crime of violence, right? Not sex. I'm sure they'd be happy to have their names and pictures plastered all over the airways.

I get it...so men are only entitled to talk about certain crimes . I guess only doctors should talk about alleged crimes involving medical malpractice cases. Lets take it further....only rape victims or falsely accused rapist should talk about this subject since you WOMAN who have never been raped are no more an expert on the subject then men.

If you aren't going to release the name of the accuser, than you shouldn't release the name of the accused either. You think its not embarassing to be accused of rape?

Drew, go back to your PSAT review classes. What crimes involve medical malpractice cases? Secondly, the point of the post as far as I can discern is that rape is a different sort of crime. It wasn't trying to debate who is a bigger expert on rape. And finally, unless you are a psychic, how do you know that someone has not been raped?

I know I'm feeding the troll. I'm just bored at work.

I would imagine that if a medical procedure went wrong the doctor could be charged in a criminal case. I guess I could do a westlaw search on cases of Medical Malpractice that lead to criminal cases but we all know its there.

Second. There are men who have been raped so there are men who can know what it is like. So there are men who know what it is to be raped.

Third: Are personal insults necessary for you to make a point. Is posting ones opinion considered trolling? If so I guess you would also be with your insults and opinion as well..

Back where I came from, In Australia, the names of Rape and other sexual assault victims are kept confidential. The names are not released to the public - only to the defence. I am not sure if the defence is required to keep the identity of the accusers private.

Amen, sister. I personally find it funny that these comments are made by MEN. They wouldn't understand what it means to be a women, therefore, they should keep thier mouths shut. Rape, whether he did it or not, is very serious.

Of course, no men are ever raped. Ever.

Why should one have to understand what it means to be a "women" [sic] to discuss rape? Rape isn't something that happens to women; it's something that happens to rape victims.

Amen Phil....

Actually, all this sniping about fairness is not on point. To the complainers out there, your reason for wanting to know her name is....what, exactly? Whether you can find her photo on the internet is irrelevant to due process. Kobe Bryant and his defense team know her name, and I daresay they'll know everything, both factual and rumored, about her soon.

The defendant has every right to confront the accuser in court; nothing about keeping her name out of the press reduces the likelihood of a fair trial. If anything, it improves that chance.

As someone with a loved one who was raped, I can testify that shame is a very strong deterrant to the reporting of this kind of crime. But I don't think that's the only reason most news organizations won't give her name. After all, this Colorado girl's identity is no secret in her community. It is more unknown, for the most part, among those who would plot retribution against her outside a court of law.

This is also not strictly a gender issue. The same principle would apply if a man is the accuser. So knee-jerk "men-are-oppressed" types can relax.

What about all the poor men lives and families that were ruined by false accusations. How do they get back there lives and self respect back?

Kobi should have never been named. If you name the accused you name the accuser...end of story.

Technically, I think the state is the accuser here. The 19-year-old is the alleged victim, but she's also the main witness. The fact is, the prosecutor, acting as an agent of the state, believes Kobe Bryant committed sexual assault. We will find out if a jury, provided with the same evidence and vigorous argument from the defense, agrees. In the meantime, the prosecution and the defense have both worked pretty hard to keep the details of the charges out of the press, which may be working to Kobe's PR advantage at this point, but also won't have bearing on the outcome of the trial.

In general, prosecutors don't rush to file sexual assault charges unless they feel fairly confident in their cases. This is not to say that Kobe is guilty or not guilty; only that this may be a matter of more than "he said/she said" evidence. I referred in an earlier post to a loved one who had been raped; in that instance the prosecutor has yet to file any charges, even though the guy had five previous complaints against him for alleged sexual assaults and made a partial confession to a police investigator. Still, because it's hard to win these cases (and because of questions about admissibility), the prosecutor has hesitated. So that guy's name has never appeared in any newspaper or newscast. It also means that women, as before, don't know there's a reason to stay away from him.

The trolls are missing a very important point. In general, neither accused rapists nor their accusers have their names and pictures plastered all over the media, so there's not really a double standard there.

Why is this one different? Because Bryant is a celebrity. When a celebrity gets arrested, it's considered "news" and reported on. Sorry, them's the breaks. But guess what? If a female celebrity were raped, that would be all over the news as well; the double standard isn't so much accuser vs. accused, but celebrity vs. non-celebrity.

In any case, what I fail to see is why this woman should be treated differently from other alleged rape victims just becuase she allegedly had the misfortune of being raped by a celebrity.

Kobi should have never been named. If you name the accused you name the accuser...end of story.

Well, no, that's not accurate either. The Constitutional guarantee of a speedy and public trial requires that the accused be named. We can't go having anonymous trials, for reasons which I would hope would be obvious -- not least of which is that, with the accused being named and shown, persons with exonerating evidence might come forward.

In general, neither accused rapists nor their accusers have their names and pictures plastered all over the media, so there's not really a double standard there.

Depends on what you mean by "plastered all over the media." Will all rape arrests lead the news on ESPN and be on the cover of major dailies and newsweeklies? No, Will the accused's name and probably a picture appear in the local papers, and maybe a nearby major metropolitan paper? Yes. It's a matter of scale. Your garden-variety accused rapist won't be made famous nationwide, but he'll certainly be easily identified within his community, and maybe his state.

Well, we already have one person whose life is being screwed up because of the IDing of the accuser.


Don't know if anyone else posted that yet. (Apologies if it's a repeat.)

In any case, this girl with a similar name is being harrassed and punished because her name is similar to the accuser's name.

BTW, I agree with the folk that have pointed out that normally a rape victim's name is not released to the public in low profile cases, but is available to officers of the law, members of the court, the juries, lawyers, and so on....who are really the people who need to know. I don't think the public has the right to know the name of Kobe's accuser--the law does, and they do.

of course you agree...pisces...of course

Does any one know the URL. Personelly I want to se how she looks and I dont care about her name. I think if they named Kobe as the rapest then they should name the girl. Hey, it's only fare. If they wanted to keep her privacy then they shouldnt of named anyone and keep it at that. Kobe is also the victim here. His name is being slandered by this woman. She is so stupid, she should of never been in a grown mans room at midnight in a hotel. I've been to many hotels and never did I get that treatment. Room service at 12:00 am. I'm a female and I know she planned this. She probably thought she was going to make a quick buck and nnow she's not getting zip and Kobe is facing most of his life in prison. It wasn't worthed and I know now she regrets it!