Why Did Radio Host Name Alleged Rape Victim?

ByABC News via logo
July 23, 2003, 10:48 PM

July 24 -- A nationally syndicated radio talk show discussing the Kobe Bryant rape allegations did something that media outlets deem taboo: he named the alleged victim.

Radio talk show host Tom Leykis decided to name the 19-year-old Colorado woman who accused the Los Angeles Lakers star of rape, even though her family had pleaded for privacy. Leykis began using the name on air Tuesday, and says he plans to continue because he believes it is unfair to name Bryant and not his accuser.

Leykis, who is based in Los Angeles, is heard on 60 stations across the country. He has also said he did not believe the woman's claims.

The revealing of the victim's name has enraged rape counselors and mental health experts, who say publicity creates more trauma for sexual assault victims.

"That's like being raped again," if her accusations againstBryant are true, said Dr. Patricia Saunders, director of GrahamWindham Manhattan Medical Center in New York City. "It's anintrusion. It's an utter violation of her right to privacy. It'sa sadistic thing to do."

Most news organizations have policies that forbidnaming sexual assault victims, and major news outlets across the country have not identified the woman. Butthe woman's name, address and telephone number havesurfaced on the Internet.

Eagle County, Colorado District Attorney Mark Hurlbert charged the 24-year-old basketball player with one count of felony sexual assault last Friday. Bryant, who is married, has publicly admitted that he committed adultery, but said that sex with the woman was consensual.

The woman was working at the front desk of the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in Edwards when Bryant arrived the evening of June 30. The next day, the woman went with her parents to the Eagle County sheriff's office and reported that Bryant had raped her.

If convicted, Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000. He is scheduled to return to Eagle, Colo., for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 6.