Alleged victim’s mother speaks out
The mother of Kobe Bryant’s alleged rape victim Monday surprised a crime victims’ rights rally in Denver by making her first public appearance.
The mother made a brief statement at to kick off National Crime Victims Rights Week at a rally, saying she decided it was time to speak for herself, her family and in support of crime victims.
“Victim’s rights are about protecting and supporting people in their struggle to reclaim their lives,” she said.
Rally organizers from the Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance asked the alleged victim’s family to appear through the district attorney’s office. District attorneys spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said family members gave it serious consideration, then decided to make the appearance – with the assurance that if there was any publicity beforehand, they would not attend.
“She decided to speak out at this event because she said the venue and the time was right to come forward and give her opinion,” said Flannigan.
The young woman’s mother spoke in a strong and steady voice. She became emotional only when she talked about her daughter.
“I want to thank my daughter for teaching me about courage,” she said. “I am proud to be her mom.”
Her father’s eyes welled up with tears while his wife was speaking.
In addition to the young woman’s mother, the rally was addressed by a woman from Fort Collins who was the victim of a serial rapist. She described what it was like to be a rape victim.
The Fort Collins woman described what it meant to her that her friends believed her, and that her rapist is behind bars. She also lashed out at the media and everyone berating the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case.
The victim in the William Kennedy Smith rape case was also heard from through a written statement. She submitted a letter about what it was like to be a rape victim, especially in a high profile case. Her letter described the rape victims she has helped with over the years since her case.
She also said the berating of Bryant’s alleged victim needs to stop.
Legal experts said that while it’s probably good that the alleged victim’s family spoke out, it apparently wasn’t designed to tip the balance in the jury pool, and probably won’t have much effect.
“Considering that the other side has, one way or another, been getting in front of the camera, this could help balance the playing field,” said local attorney Rohn Robbins. “She has the right to talk, and it certainly is courageous of her.
“On balance it is a good thing.”
The appearance is the second public statement the alleged victim’s family has made since the case became public last summer. In late March, they requested that a trial date be set as soon as possible. They said their daughter’s life can only get back to something approaching normal after the trial is over. In a letter to District Judge Terry Ruckreigle, they said their daughter has received hundreds of death threats, and hundreds more threats of personal injury.
“For her to take some initiative to put herself in the public eye to speak in support of crime victims is both courageous and appropriate,” said Robbins, who added that it probably won’t have much, if any effect on potential jurors. “A jury will not be prejudiced one way or another by this.”
Only a handful of people knew the alleged victim’s mother and father would be there. The crowd was shocked when the young woman’s mother and father showed up.
They had a police escort into the rally.
Her mother was introduced as the mother of a rape victim in Eagle County. The appearance was at a rally to launch National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, at Denver’s Civic Center Park.
Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter said that while headlines often focus on the criminal and the crime, Colorado will take time out to honor victims, Ritter wrote in a press release.
As his final tribute to victims as Denver’s district attorney, Ritter dedicated a park bench in honor of victim service providers.
Afterward, the alleged victim’s mother put a leaf on the crime victim’s tree.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert was at the rally, supporting the Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance. Flannigan said Hurlbert attends every year, as did his predecessors, Mike Goodbee and Pete Michaelson.
Also among those attending were Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter, Attorney General Ken Salazar.
“National Crime Victims Rights Week will have events going on all week, but family will not be speaking any more, or making any appearances,” said Flannigan. “They honor what COVA does and what it represents. Crime victims are honored, as are the victims’ service providers from all over the state.”