Rape trial becomes marketing opportunity | VailDaily.com

Rape trial becomes marketing opportunity

Kathy Heicher/Special to the Daily
Some citizens at the Oct. 9 hearing saw the trial as an advertising oppportunity. These fellows were promoting a bead and breakfast in Maniteu Springs.

One man’s rape trial is apparently another man’s marketing opportunity.

Milling about with the national media crowd at one of Kobe Bryant recent hearings at the Eagle County Justice Center were a number of entrepreneurial types taking advantage of the unusual publicity opportunity.

Three fellows wearing “Escape the Madness” sandwich board signs got in front of the cameras frequently to promote a bed and breakfast operation in Manitou Springs. A bevy of young people, dressed in matching white T-shirts, promoted a new brand of condoms that come complete with a pre-sex consent form for participants to use.

A budding author roamed the crowd promoting a first novel dealing with women’s issues. A couple of brothers gave away T-shirts bearing wry political commentary on the Bryant case.

The entrepreneurs worked the orderly crowd of reporters, photographers, and television cameramen from national, international, state and local media.

“We wanted to take advantage of this great advertising opportunity,” said Paul York, club manager for the Cliff House at Pike’s Peak, a bed and breakfast retreat.

“This is a good way for us to launch our products,” added Whitney Wadsworth of Broomfield, one of the young people promoting “Protect Condoms,” the birth control device that comes with consent papers. She was unabashed about using the rape trial as a medium for advertising.

“Maybe if these (condoms and consent forms) had been around, it would have prevented something like this from happening,” Wadsworth added. Bryant, a basketball star, is accused of raping a 19-year-old Eagle woman in July during a stay at the Cordillera resort on Squaw Creek.

Author Becky Due of Lafayette was handing out business cards and information sheets promoting her first fiction novel, “The Gentleman’s Club,” a self-published book with a plot that involves molested and abused women fighting for change and for revenge against the men who hurt them. Due said she saw some parallels between the plot in her story, and the alleged circumstances of the Bryant case.

“This is an opportunity to do some promoting,” said Due, who was headed to Greeley next to promote her self-published book at a “Take Back the Night” rally.

None of the promoters were actually selling anything, likely because the town of Eagle, hoping to maintain the dignity of the court activities, refused to issue any one-day business licenses.

Two brothers from Massachusetts were handing out T-shirts from their business, “Hangman-Tees.” The company’s specialty is printing tee-shirts that have clues, such as “I’m not a rapist. I’m just a cheater”, then a fill-in the-blank answer K__b_ Bry_nt. The brothers indicated that the Bryant tee-shirts are a best seller this days, but said that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Martha Stewart shirts with equally acerbic political statements are also in high demand.

This hearing brought many more media representatives than citizen spectators, although a few local citizens did turn out to satisfy their curiosity about a major media event in their hometown. There were also a few out-of-town visitors who stopped by simply because they were in the area, and curious.

Observers also included a journalism class from Mesa State College, and a journalism student from Front Range Community College, who snagged a ticket for courtroom seating.

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