Kobe case loaded with tough questions | VailDaily.com
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Kobe case loaded with tough questions

Tom Boyd

The one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s arrest was bound to make headlines this week, giving journalists an opportunity to re-hash all that’s happened since the beginning of the trial.To you, the reader, there’s a good chance that much of this will be pretty boring. What entertains our County’s general public seems to be a good joke or two, perhaps a few speculatory comments, a few things heard through the grapevine, the passing of wild rumors, a shot of your house or friend on CNN, and most of all: the chance that you might be on the Kobe jury.As a weekly paper, we weren’t (and aren’t) in the business of keeping our readers up with the daily affairs of the trial.This is probably a relief to most of you.But there are some very interesting issues that have come out of this namely, that sexual assault happens in Eagle County, and that it probably happens much more often than people may realize.The Town of Vail police department, for example, recently dropped off their 2003 annual report. Inside they tell us that, in 2003, there were 12 cases of sexual assault reported.The report states that: “Four cases involved indecent exposure, two cases included offenders meeting their victims in bars (whatever that means), two cases involved acquaintances sexually assaulting their victims, one case entailed a sex offender who failed to register and who was caught watching the reporting party’s children, one involved the sexual assault of a victim by her ex-boyfriend, one was a sexual assault of a father against his daughter, and the remaining case was committed by an offender who was a friend of the family of the victim. Of these 12 cases, nine male offenders were arrested, one case was determined to be unfounded, two cases were closed by the District Attorney for lack of probable cause and lack of cooperation from the victim, and one case remains open and under investigation.”And that’s just Vail.So there are a few points that our community needs to take a look at that have been raised, regrettably, by the high-profile case we’re going to be trying in this county beginning Aug. 27. Why is there such a large number of sexual assault cases in Eagle County? Are victims crying out too often? Are our laws to stringent? Is our society confused about sexual issues? Or are we not doing enough to watch out for each other, report sexual offenders, and create a society where deviant sexual behavior is less prolific. Are people aware that rape and sexual assault happen here in the valley, or is there a hesitancy by the media and corporations to admit that we have crime in the valley?Are we aware that, as our valley grows, the ability for sexually deviant criminals to operate clandestinely also grows?Do we have a race problem in this county not with blacks, of whom there are very few here, and of whom have talked to the Vail Trail and reported few racial problems but with Hispanics? Is our county justice system (including Sheriff, judges, and DA) prepared to handle a case of this magnitude, and are our other cases suffering because of this trial? Are the people of our County capable of giving Bryant and the alleged victim a fair trail? Are Colorado’s rape shield laws too strong, and should they be revised?The other thing that this case has shown me is that the national media is a strange beast indeed, searching for every crumb of sleaze so that they could point it out and condemn it. Nothing seems to make the national media happier than having a half-hour discussion about bloody underwear while simultaneously looking down on the whole affair, trying to seem above it all when in fact they are neck deep in it.But there is a difference, it seems, and not all national media outlets are the same. Working with BBC radio, I found, was actually pleasant. As for television, not so much.Notes A little more than a year ago I flew off the handle, so to speak, about the wildlife protection ordinance passed by the Town of Vail. This ordinance had no teeth, I proclaimed, because it didn’t require the installment and use of bear-proof trash cans.I have changed my mind completely, done a 180, as it’s said.Vail’s wildlife ordinance has been a wonderful success, as bear/human encounters and calls into police have been cut in half. I was under the impression, a year ago, that our population needed to be forced into doing the right thing. But Diana Donovan and the Town Council saved us a bundle by not requiring the use of expensive bear-proof cans and instead relying on the people themselves to do the right thing.The ordinance also gave the Vail Police Department motivation to move out and educate the people, giving them backing in an effort to make people put their trash out at the right time and in a wise manner. Our burly buddies may be missing a few good meals, but they’re not going on feeding frenzies in our driveways anymore, either.In fact, the last bear to come to my house was a big sow and her two cubs. She took some time to sun herself in our yard (which is attached to her forest) and we all had a peaceful go of it. She didn’t make a mess, I didn’t have to call the cops, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Kudos to the council. VTTom Boyd can be reached for comment at tboyd@vailtrail.co


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