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No one goes unstained

Don Rogers

Of course it had to be a professional athlete, an NBA player. And black.

She had to be young and blonde and have a troubled past that may or may not prove relevant in the case.

The cops had to bumble, at least a little. The press had to swarm, stalking teen-agers no less.



The community had to be lily white (even if 30 percent of the population in fact happens to be Hispanic). You can count the number of African Americans on two hands.

Oh boy, what a story. What a case. Among everything else, it’s stereotype hell.



Next comes the “perp walk” this afternoon for Kobe Bryant, who has moved on from calling the accusations against him “bogus” and taken to quoting Martin Luther King Jr. about “injustice” to adoring fans while accepting an award in LA for being a role model to teen-agers.

An undertow to this story is the erosion of respect for just about everything it touches.

Bryant, suffering the first of many endorsement losses with a little chocolate company dropping him this week, tarnished himself with his admission of room-service style adultery.



His accuser’s own troubles sprang to light in the wake of reporting to the authorities she had been raped.

The sheriff’s reputation has suffered for rashly arresting Bryant before the district attorney determined there was a case to make. Legal analysts, cops viewing from outside his department, and the previous sheriff have been critical. The defense attorneys sound almost gleeful.

No matter, though, since the district attorney picked up the case and decided there was enough evidence to prosecute it. The jury is out, literally, on the prosecutors. Time will tell whether the new DA has sufficiently picked up the pieces of an office shattered by turnover and can now prove cases not settled by plea bargains or a body buried in the yard of the defendant.

Ah, and the press has hardly distinguished itself in that court of public opinion, though the public has a little something to do with this fascination with all things celebrity.

Even the “serious” press has had its problems. A recent piece by a well-respected Eastern media columnist couldn’t get much more than Kobe Bryant’s name right while weighing in on whether the accuser should be identified by name. Never mind the cacophony of reports from teen-agers and second-hand leaks. This guy couldn’t keep documented dates straight or even note the correct color of the young woman’s home. Sheesh.

And it gets tougher from here, as the most intimate moments of those 20 minutes head inexorably toward the 6 o’clock news.


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