Media contacts worry Sheriff’s Office
The media frenzy gripping Eagle County these past few weeks has the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office phones smoking.
But the Sheriff’s Office is more concerned about the kids being interviewed who are asked to meet members of the media in private hotel rooms, said Kim Andree, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.
“For some of these predators out there, this frenzy could be a feeding ground for them,” Andree said.
The Sheriff’s Office recommends that people approached for interview to ask for names and legitimate media credentials.
“We’re hearing from different aspects about money being offered to these kids, and then they never pull it off,” Andree said. “It’s a personal safety concern for us, but we’re more concerned with the kids becoming comfortable talking with people outside of the community – strangers – and getting into a hotel room with them if they’re not a member of the media.
“It’s a concern for the parents, and it’s a concern for the kids.”
The Sheriff’s Office received calls from kids relaying different stories and experiences about agreeing to personal, exclusive interviews with members of the media in which money was part of the exchange, Andree said.
“If they’re a legitimate member of the media, they will understand that the kids don’t want to go to a hotel room,” she said. “But it’s so unpredictable right now because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“And these kids are nice kids – naive kids – and it really scares me.”
Andree also said that there are public meeting places available that provide privacy, such as libraries, parks and restaurants.
“Don’t go to private areas but meet publicly,” she said. “Go with a parent or a friend. But whatever you do, don’t get into a car with a perfect stranger.”
The Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was charged July 4 with one count of felony sexual assault. Colorado law requires there to be sexual penetration and physical force for such a charge. He’s due in court Aug. 6.
The charges stem from a June 30 incident in which Bryant allegedly sexually assaulted a 19-year-old Eagle woman at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where he stayed before having knee surgery at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic the next day.
Since then, reporters across the nation have swarmed the valley in search of sources, exclusive interviews with friends of the young woman, and background information on her.
“It’s only going to get worse after Aug. 6,” Andree said. “And these kids don’t need to put themselves at jeopardy.”
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or at email@example.com.