Los Angeles Laker basketball player Kobe Bryant has been charged with felony sexual assault. This could be the end of his professional basketball career. It will almost certainly mean great monetary damage through the loss of commercial endorsements and other opportunities.
I will draw on my experiences representing athletes as an attorney to share some thoughts with you. Kobe Bryant is an athlete. This means that he is a target. After virtually every NBA basketball game you will find women hovering around arena exits who are willing to throw themselves into bed with almost any athlete that walks out of that door.
Some of these women just want another notch on their garter belt. Some of them are looking for something more – they’re looking for money – lots of money. Their intention is to lie about birth control and have unprotected sex with the hope of getting pregnant. They know that having the child of a wealthy athlete is a guarantee of easy street for at least 18 years. No work, nice house, nice cars – the works.
Sound harsh? Trust me, these women are out there. The large brain of every athlete is aware of this fact. Disaster happens when they let the small brain do all the thinking. These athletes have been warned, but the testosterone level is almost as high as the hoop. Go have yourself a good time, then get out your checkbook.
The women who are merely looking for bragging rights of sex with a top athlete present another danger. That danger comes from the possibility of feelings of regret and humiliation, even fear. The danger the athlete faces is prison.
We have a case in Georgia right now where a high-school athlete has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the rape of a classmate. Many who have studied the case believe this young man to be innocent. He’s a National Honor Society student and scored over 1200 on his SATs. Hardly the profile of a sexual predator. But, the athlete is black and his victim was a white girl.
Some, me included, believe that somehow the girl’s parents found out about an episode of consensual sex between the two, or at least the girl worried that this was about to happen. She was scared to death that her parents were going to find that she had been dating a young black man. Her solution? Claim she was raped. This black kid raped her. She then, in my opinion, stood back and watched this kid go off to 15 years in prison because she didn’t want her parents and friends to find out the truth.
False accusations of rape are by no means unusual. In some cases, they are the rule. Eugene Kanin of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Purdue did a study of a small metropolitan community. The study covered rape allegations over a 9-year period. Dr. Kanin found that “False rape allegations constituted 41 percent of the total forcible rapes reported during [that] period.”
A Harvard law professor reports that the woman in charge of prosecuting sexual-assault crimes in New York reported that out of approximately 4,000 rape allegations in Manhattan each year, about one-half of them just didn’t happen. Another study states that 50 percent of all rape allegations lodged on college campuses in the United States are false.
Bryant is accused of rape in Eagle County, Colo. Eagle County is not exactly a black Mecca. Kobe Bryant’s alleged rape victim is white. My gut feeling is that the sex was consensual, and then the regret and fear set in. Then came the rape allegation – an allegation possibly designed to save face and avoid embarrassment. Now that this matter has gone this far, perhaps the accuser is frightened – too frightened to step forward and put a halt to this disaster by telling the truth.
If Kobe Bryant forcibly raped this girl, send him to jail … for a long time. If he is being put on trial because some young girl regrets a romp in the sack with an athlete and is afraid for her reputation, then the wrong person is going to trial.
In the meantime, we have a good lesson for other athletes out there, especially the younger ones who are loaded with athletic talent but not too burdened with judgment and common sense. Those women fawning over you can be dangerous. Your very freedom may be at jeopardy, not just your career. While you’re doing your thing on the basketball court, there are predator’s eyes watching your every move. Think.