Scrutiny intensifies |

Scrutiny intensifies

Don Rogers

Kobe Bryant’s solid-citizen image so far has held with barely a chink as news of the sexual assault case against him begins its second week. And you know reporters are digging furiously into his background.

But the girl-next-door veneer of his 19-year-old accuser already has worn thin even in her protective community where the college student is home for summer.

As what began as gossipy tidbits resolve slowly toward reports in print and on the air, and “friends” begin to dish on national television, it’s becoming clearer that a troubled young woman’s nightmare is just beginning.

That physical evidence had better be awfully good. If charges indeed are filed, we’ll know soon enough.

Even if her life’s challenges have nothing whatsoever to do with this case against the basketball star, it’s a safe bet she’d have a tough time weathering cross-examination on the stand.

Investigators do not appear to have made some relatively basic checks into her background in the rush to arrest Bryant before the district attorney had studied the case to determine what, if any, charges to file.

It’s queasy work, to be sure, checking up on the reported victim in such a heinous case. Rest assured, though, that’s precisely what the Lakers star’s defense team is doing – to him, as well as the young woman.

This would all go quietly had the press not been stampeded to Eagle County on news of Bryant’s arrest without charges. Now every news organization in the country is on the trail.

Sheriff Joe Hoy has to hope desperately for formal charges to paper over a horrendous mistake in the premature arrest that has rained down scrutiny on the most vulnerable member of his community. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Hoy were clearly stunned when asked by a reporter late last week about recent personal trials in the young woman’s life that may have included police responses of a non-criminal nature to her home.

These incidents prior to her run-in with Kobe Bryant late the night of June 30 at the Lodge at Cordillera probably have nothing at all to do with the events that night. But they should have been checked out before a reporter came calling. What else have the investigators overlooked?

The district attorney has the toughest job now. There’s the case itself, of course, where the focus entirely belongs. A consequence of charges is that the scrutiny will really tighten on the still teen-age woman and young man as the case wends to court.

Why would the local paper stop short of print when a case has gone no further than “investigation”? To avoid a needless crucifixion that now, sadly, appears well on its way, however the case goes.


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