My heart sure ain’t with Bryant |

My heart sure ain’t with Bryant

Don Rogers

I caught part of a preseason Lakers game on television Friday night. Couldn’t stand watching Kobe Bryant, considering the misery he has brought to Eagle County. It’s going to be a long season. A move to Memphis, or Toronto maybe, couldn’t come soon enough for that fellow.

Never mind whether he committed a crime along with his room-service-casual adultery at the Lodge at Cordillera last summer. I confess I don’t see how his apologists continue with their misplaced adulation.

It’s not as if he’s someone important. Pro athlete, entertainer. Big deal. That’s about as low in true significance to a society as can be. The superstar basketball player is wholly undeserving of affection.

In pointing out the apparent poverty in the criminal case against him, make no mistake, I feel no sympathy for this guy. Facing charges and being exposed at best as an immature lout ensures at least some poetic justice. May all his endorsements cease sooner rather than later.

The young woman who says he raped her did the right thing to report it to the authorities. She showed great courage and fortitude throughout her ordeal in maintaining that is what happened.

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I’m not at all confident that she or her family understood the scrutiny or the hate that would rain upon them. They’ve experienced an awful lot of humanity at its most vile. Death threats in the name of a bastard whose only talent lies in a game? How sick is that? Then there are the relative misdemeanors committed by the press and “friends” succumbing to allure of a nation’s all-too rapt attention.

Seeing the outlines of a budding sin among authorities carrying her case forward against Bryant doesn’t make me feel any less for her plight. Like other fathers of daughters, mine entering those adolescent years, I have that gut reaction thinking about how I’d react if this happened to my daughter. And talk about hitting home. We live in Eagle, too.

Still, perhaps in part because I also have a teen-age son and can imagine how I’d want to see case handled if he were god-forbid accused of something this heinous, I’m just removed enough to look at the case at least somewhat clinically. What might be viewed as horribly unfair to the alleged victim is really the only way to proceed to lessen the chances of society locking up the innocent.

So we have innocent until proven guilty, which does make reported crimes with no eyewitnesses besides the accused and accuser, ambiguous evidence of injuries supposedly caused by the defendant, and other plausible explanations for whatever happened at the lodge June 30 awfully problematic.

In other words, it’s not enough that a crime happened. The professionals in the field have to be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt to a jury.

Given the recent track record of prosecutions in Eagle County and what I’ve seen so far in this case, I do have real doubts. Obviously, so does the judge who handled the preliminary hearing. If the defendant’s name weren’t Bryant, I suspect this case might not have made it past the prelim.

What should we be able to expect from the District Attorney’s Office? The experience, skill and commitment to take on provable cases and carry them through competently – not missing deadlines, losing or misinterpreting or failing to collect evidence, or making basic mistakes in court.

We should also be able to expect enough maturity to recognize when the chances of conviction are remote and the victim will not be best served in court. Then enough fortitude to level with the accuser.

That’s a high standard, I realize. But I hope the district attorney exercised all this wisdom before deciding to file the sexual assault charge against Bryant.

Along with Bryant, who frankly has earned all the attention he is getting right now, they’ve exposed the alleged victim’s most personal affairs and difficulties to public scrutiny. I don’t think she deserved any of that if it turns out the authorities shoved ahead with a case they had little chance of proving.

And I really hope they aren’t pinning their hopes on a perversion of rape shield law, intended to protect reputations from unwarranted sullying, so that it appears the woman’s injuries could only have come from Bryant. That would render a significant part of the “people’s” case a flat-out lie. Hardly justice.

Ah but it’s early yet, though this weird, weird case seems to have been with us forever. The trial is months away. There’s plenty of time for the prosecutors to show what they really have to prove Kobe Bryant is not only a cad, but a criminal too.

For the alleged victim’s sake, I wish them the best of luck. For their sake and frankly the community they represent, they’d better have a lot more than they’ve shown so far.

Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or

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