After I posted Kobe and Me, about the sorrow I felt at the passing of Kobe Bryant, I found an article titled The worst way to handle the Kobe Bryant rape case by Molly Roberts in the Washington Post. It wondered why the entirety of the Kobe Bryant legacy wasn’t being discussed, in particular the rape accusations that occurred in Colorado in 2003. I followed a link to an old description of the accuser’s … and Bryant’s … statements at the time and came away feeling uneasy with what I’d written. I don’t want to drag out the details here while many of us are mourning him, but the accusers statements AND Kobe’s were extremely disturbing, as was the physical evidence. The accuser eventually decided not to testify (likely because of the attack tactics of Kobe’s defense team), and the case was dropped. Kobe issued what can only be described as a half apology, admitting to the event and stating that he understood she didn’t see it as consensual. He also paid an estimated $2,5 million to the accuser to settle the civil case.

My assertion that the incident took the glow off one of my favorite athletes was inappropriately dismissive. Even reading the details today (which you can find here) , I was disgusted. I wondered: Can a man who is accused of rape with a preponderance of evidence pointing to guilt be, as Alicia Keys called him at the Grammys, a hero?

I needed to write an addendum to my post. It is by no means a retraction of what I said in Kobe and Me. The event seems to have been a turning point in his life, followed by a reconciliation with Vanessa and a new image as a family man. I am mourning him like most everyone else. But my mourning is tempered by the knowledge that his accuser and other victims of rape may not feel as I do. I like what Molly Roberts said in her Washington Post article:

Kobe Bryant was singular, and singularly special to those who adored him. But the test he sets is universal. How do we treat the bequests of big men accused of doing horrible things? Is it possible to make recompense on your own terms when a judge hasn’t ordered it — just by living well as a husband, a father or simply a person? Those questions are difficult to answer, but the worst thing we can do is allow ourselves not to ask them at all.

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