In July of 2003 Kobe Bryant was charged with raping a young woman in Eagle, Colorado. The charges against Bryant, were he convicted, would have sent him to jail for a lengthy sentence, up to life in prison, potentially ending his basketball career. Remarkably, Bryant played throughout the 2003-04 basketball season, never missing a game for a team or league suspension relating to the rape charges.
Laker fans never booed Bryant during the season, indeed the first time he appeared on camera after the rape charges were filed, he was cheered wildly. Incredibly, Bryant’s jersey sales surged in the wake of his rape charges, climbing throughout the season as his trial date neared and more and more details leaked into the media.
The Los Angeles Lakers would ultimately lose in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons. Bryant, who at the time had won three titles with the Lakers, would go on to win two more NBA titles and play for 13 more NBA seasons.
The rape charges were dropped when Bryant’s accuser decided not to testify. Kobe later settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser for an undisclosed amount of money and released this remarkable apology:
“First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colorado.
I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.
I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.”
Again, what a remarkable apology. This reads like a statement from someone who was worried he would be convicted of rape. That’s probably because Bryant was on the record lying to police in an audiotaped conversation.
In a 57 page document, which you can read here, Bryant initially lied to police and said he never had sex with the woman. Instead of having sex, Bryant said the woman came into his hotel room so she could show him “where the bears come up to the window. I’m like bears fucking walk up to this…”
Really, that was his claim.
Asked whether he kissed or hugged the woman, Bryant lied, “No,” he said. Asked if they had sex, Bryant lied once more, “No.”
Caught in his lie and told that the woman was alleging he raped her, Bryant backtracked and asked if he could settle the case before the detectives have even told him what’s being alleged. “Is there any way I can settle this, whatever it is, I mean…”
Detective: “Well, what do you mean by settle?”
Kobe: “If my wife, if my wife found out that anybody made any type of allegations against me she would be infuriated…That’s all I care about…What she (the alleged victim) says, I don’t care about.”
Confronted with more details that support the woman’s allegation that she was raped, Kobe abruptly changes his story, “Okay, so whatever, all right, um, but what if this scenario…”
The detective finally says, “Just be straight up, we’re not going to tell your wife or anything. Did you have sexual intercourse with her?”
At this point Bryant acknowledges he slept with her and says it was “totally consensual.” What follows is a meandering description of the sex acts, which Bryant says lasted five minutes and featured him grabbing her by the throat and entering from behind. As evidence of the fact that he enjoys this position, Bryant gave investigators another woman he slept with, named Michelle, and said she could testify to his liking this position.
Bryant said the sexual encounter ended when he asked if he could jerk off in her face — because it was his “finishing move” — but the accuser declined his offer.
As a result the sex act ended and Bryant said, “I jerked off when she left.”
What emerges from the interview is Bryant’s concern that his image, his endorsements, and his wife would be impacted if any details of the investigation ever went public. Remarkably, despite his body guards making regular appearances during the interview, at no time does Bryant request legal counsel or even mention needing his own attorney during the questioning.
Police ultimately seized clothing in his hotel room that proved the woman was bleeding during the sex and took Bryant to another location to conduct a rape test on him. He would be charged with rape a few days later.
At one point late in the interview Bryant cuts off an investigator who has commented on the accuser being an attractive young woman.
“She wasn’t that attractive,” Bryant coldly responded.
Again, I’d encourage you to go read the entire 57 page document for yourself. It’s a quick read, but an interesting one. As you read the document ask yourself several questions, what if Kobe Bryant’s rape charges happened today? How much differently would it be treated by media and social media? Would Bryant be allowed to play for the Lakers with his charges pending? Should he be able to play? After apologizing and paying his alleged victim off would Bryant’s image recover as quickly as it has? And here’s a final question for you — as Bryant prepares to play his final game for the Lakers and continues his year long goodbye that has led to rampant and unfiltered adulation across the country, how come no other media outlet is even mentioning his rape charges?
I guess Kobe’s lucky he never mooned anyone.