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It's okay to mourn Kobe Bryant's death. But we shouldn't forget the girl he assaulted.

It's okay to mourn Kobe Bryant's death. But we shouldn't forget the girl he assaulted.

The athlete may now be hallmarked as an icon, but he left a 19-year-old girl in absolute ruins in 2003.

Earlier this week, America lost a hero of an athlete. He was a legend and inspiration for many. There is, of course, much to say about someone we all felt like we knew but never really had the opportunity to touch. Despite all this, we must imagine him complexly, taking into account all the nuances of his personality. Therefore, while we mourn his tragic death, we must remember the 19-year-old girl he assaulted‚Äč as he swam without inhibition in stardom, success, and six figures.

 



 

 

The incident took place in the summer of 2003 when Bryant checked into the Cordillera Lodge and Spa in Edwards, Colorado. He reportedly spoke with the 19-year-old working at the concierge desk. She showed him his room as they made small talk. The athlete, a new father of six-month-old daughter Natalia, was smitten. So he invited her to come back to his room to give him a "private tour" of the hotel. And we all know how this story goes. She was seen entering his room, but she exited only five minutes later. Her clothes were disheveled, her mind reportedly distraught, and her underwear bloody. And what did Bryant do? He admitted he cheated on his wife Vanessa, but claimed the 19-year-old had consented.



 

 

A "bonafide media circus," as Lindsay Gibbs writing for ThinkProgress described it, ensued. The overdone narrative of victim-blaming played out and the incident became one of the most high-profile sexual assault cases in the United States. As the case progressed, the woman was worn down by the judiciary, media, and fans, who all assassinated her character. Mark Shaw, an attorney and author who covered the case for ESPN and USA Today, told ThinkProgress in an interview, "In the Kobe Bryant case, it was abominable how the accuser was treated. Everyone was at fault. This poor woman, they wore her down, and it happened from the first hearings." Bryant did nothing.

 



 

 

Not even 24 hours after the charges against him were dropped, the media moved away from questions about Bryant's innocence. They wondered, instead, if he would ever be able to repair his image. Turns out, it's possible. When news of his death broke, thousands of messages of condolences poured in. From fans. From celebrities. From fellow athletes. The 19-year-old girl had all but disappeared. So while fans of the Los Angeles Lakers athlete will immortalize him as a man who could do no wrong, who stuck to his sport and loved his family, there is a victim of assault who does not have the privilege to do so. As she reads the headlines throughout this week, she will be reminded of that night that changed her life - for the worse.

 



 

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