Ugly stage begins |

Ugly stage begins

Don Rogers

The going really gets tough from here. Reporters have begun digging into information that the young woman whom Kobe Bryant allegedly sexually assaulted has endured a gantlet of personal crises, including this one.

The implications of how emotional blows have affected her before she bumped into the star basketball player are inescapable, even if irrelevant to physical evidence and other facts of this case. But attorneys get paid to win, and will at almost any cost, even if it means crucifying a teenager.

The tragedy here is that it does not appear that the district attorney or sheriff had knowledge of this when the sheriff had Bryant arrested in secret on the Fourth of July before the district attorney had a chance to decide what, if any, charges to file against Bryant.

Questioned Thursday, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert appeared surprised. Friday morning he spent quality time at the home of the young woman. Later, naturally, he had no comment other than he’d continue to weigh the evidence as it comes in and decide perhaps next week on where to go from here.

Sheriff Joe Hoy offered another no comment when asked Friday. The bet from this seat is that he was pretty surprised, as well.

This should not have been. The town buzzed with word of her personal difficulties. There appear to be records of police contact that the local department is adamant about not releasing.

The Daily and at least one other publication have asked the Eagle Police Department for records of any calls to the young woman’s home in the past year as part of their inquiries. The records we seek are not of criminal nature and were not included in a judge’s order to seal the Kobe Bryant case files. They may or may not be germane to the case.

Still, it’s surprising if investigators did not look carefully at past events in the young woman’s life before exposing her to obvious inquiries by reporters from all over the country – and later, if charges are filed, by the accused’s defense teams.

It’s one thing to surprise the district attorney with a premature arrest, but unconscionable to proceed when the result will be to leave the woman and her family vulnerable to relatively simple reporting. Maybe the sheriff and district attorney had no idea, but enough townsfolk knew enough to set at least some of the press on this path. The national reporters are good at what they do, and they have covered tough stories in small towns before. The rule of thumb for authorities should be that if there’s anything in a person’s past that may come to light, they ought to count on it coming out and factor it into their decisions.

The sheriff does not appear to have considered this when he made his remarkable decision that brought the circus to town.


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