Wrongly identified woman just wants it to stop
Identifying the wrong woman across the Internet as Kobe Bryant’s accuser has consequences not only for the wrongly identified woman, but also for those posting her photograph on Web sites.
“This must cease and desist because of the defamatory nature of the content,” said Sienna LaRene, a local attorney to help the family deal with the problem. “They should be willing to give the American system of justice a chance to work.
“The people responsible for this must also bear in mind that the American system of justice also allows redress.”
LaRene said it started with one innocuous photo, and a simple question, “Is this the girl accusing Kobe Bryant?”
Since then it has grown like a wildfire with a bad attitude. This misidentification has proliferated throughout other Web sites and has even appeared on television. Now it’s numerous photos on different Web sites, all over the Internet. Text is being attached to those photos calling the wrongly identified woman every combination of profanity imaginable, LaRene said.
“This has taken on a life of its own, and as of midnight it was still proliferating,” said LaRene. “It’s like a wildfire.”
LaRene said the wrongly identified woman is also from Eagle County, is also 19 years old and shares the same first name. They both appear in a photograph.
“She grew up here and was living her life happily,” said LaRene. “She and her family, like most other people, were watching this from a safe distance and suddenly this boulder fell on them.”
Their first thought, said LaRene, is to circle the wagons and protect this young woman.
“Anyone would do that,” said LaRene.
Earlier this week, the wrongly identified woman’s family let it be known that the photos were circulating around the Internet and they were incorrect. It doesn’t seem to make much difference to those doing the circulating.
“Fair is fair and apparently an innocuous statement won’t do it,” said LaRene.
The impact, LaRene said, is real.
“These people are devastated,” said LaRene. “The young woman is suffering. She’s mortified and the family is under a great deal of stress. They’re not a litigious family, but this is going to have some long-term impacts. We’d just like everyone to know that you’ve got it wrong. They’re using this girl’s photograph and it’s causing injury.”
That the photographs were posted of the alleged victim at all was a surprise, said LaRene. But when photos were posted of her client, incorrectly identifying her as the victim, it was a shock.
“They’re a wonderful family who couldn’t believe this was happening,” said LaRene. “They can’t believe they’re embroiled in something of this magnitude. It’s unjust and unfair.
“This girl was ready to leave town because of this.”
The first step is to request that they stop,” said LaRene. The next step is a judge’s order.
After that, it gets more contentious.
“Down the road, I can’t predict what will happen, especially is this sort of irresponsible behavior continues,” said LaRene. “She’s a sweet girl and she has been incorrectly linked to a scandalous case. Could we ask for anything worse than to drag in an innocent bystander?”
Right now, the family isn’t looking for money or to cash in on all this. They just want to be left alone.
“They just want this to stop,” said LaRene. “This is a wildfire out of control, and the only way to stop it is people to do the right and responsible thing.
“They want to contain it, then take a step back and determine if it worked or not.”