Thursday, September 02, 2004

What a Surprise ...

So Ms. KF* decided to drop her case against Kobe Bryant once it became clear that she wasn't going to be able to use the "rape shield" law to steamroller her way to victory, eh?

he Kobe Bryant rape case was dismissed yesterday in Eagle, Colo., after prosecutors said the woman who had accused Mr. Bryant of sexual assault was unwilling to testify, leaving the state no option but to drop all charges.

The decision, which capped a yearlong drama of legal maneuvering and debate about the nation's rape laws - going to Colorado's highest court three times and to the United States Supreme Court once - came after meetings with the woman, her family and her lawyers, the district attorney in the case, Mark Hurlbert, said. Mr. Hurlbert said in a statement that he wanted to pursue the case and that his decision should not be seen as any reflection on Mr. Bryant's accuser or his office's belief in her account.

"The victim has informed us, after much of her own labored deliberation, that she does not want to proceed with this trial," Mr. Hurlbert said. "For this reason, and this reason only, the case is being dismissed."

The dissolution of the criminal trial, which veered from melodrama to farce and back during preliminary hearings, was not entirely unexpected. Legal scholars who have closely followed it say the prosecutor's case had been steadily weakening in the last month after rulings by Judge W. Terry Ruckriegle, the accidental release of sealed information about Mr. Bryant's accuser and, not least, the woman's own decision in early August to sue Mr. Bryant in civil court.

The civil suit was a particularly devastating blow to the prosecution because it would have allowed Mr. Bryant's lawyers to portray the woman, whose name has not been officially released, as driven by greed, not a quest for justice.
Was she so impatient for her payday that she couldn't even wait for the criminal suit to reach its conclusion? Surely the Eagle country DA must feel betrayed by the fecklessness of this young woman in wasting all their efforts on her behalf in such a manner. But let's look at what this all means for Kobe Bryant's public image:
As Mr. Hurlbert suggested in his comments, many questions raised by the case live on in the civil suit.

And now the collapse of the criminal case raises major questions of its own, in particular whether prosecutors were rash in filing charges in the first place, or whether the evidence looked weaker than it had at first.

Even Mr. Hurlbert's tone in dropping the case against Mr. Bryant was criticized by some legal experts who said it showed a lack of grace.

"I don't think it was appropriate for him to keep saying the word victim over and over again in his statement today," said Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who has followed this case closely and who once taught Mr. Hurlbert. "He's quasi-announcing that Kobe Bryant is a rapist and that's the way it is," Mr. Campos said.
Professor Campos is right; that is exactly what Mr. Hulbert is doing, calling Bryant a rapist despite his client's unwillingness to submit to the demands of the legal system in a lawsuit she herself chose to bring. It is nauseating in the extreme that such irresponsible behavior should have been made cost-free by a feminist double-standard enshrined in legislation: the "rape shield" laws need either to be modified to grant anonymity to both sides or to simply be dropped altogether.

In any case, the civil trial collapses, and there KF will have no recourse to "rape shield" style anonymity; let the shakedown commence ...

*Come on, we all know who she is by now, don't we? And why are women (and only women) allowed to make anonymous accusations of rape without fear of repercussions to their reputations anyway?