A Colorado DA has gone ahead and charged LA Laker star Kobe Bryant with third-degree sexual assault. (“Kobe Bryant Charged With Sexual Assault,” AP, Jul. 18). He’s already admitted to committing adultery (which would still keep him near the top of the “NBA’s Most Noble Stars” list). But given the severity of this charge — it’s borderline rape, if not rape itself — there’s not going to be a wrist-slap plea like in the Chris Webber perjury case. (“Webber’s Guilty Plea Ends Michigan Probe,” AP, Jul. 15).
The statements made today by the DA in Kobe’s case are troubling, particularly his claim that “[these charges] did not come easily.” (ESPN, Jul. 18). My friend Ananda Gupta pointed out that a cynic would believe the DA would want to press charges — after all, Marcia Clark is a household name even almost a decade post-OJ. On the other side, if the DA has a case, where’s the difficulty? (If you want another OJ reference: “If there was a fight, you must indict.”)
Yes, the DA has prosecutorial discretion as to what cases to bring, but if, in his words, he believes he “can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” the decision should be a mechanical one. There are few exceptions to this (especially in sexual assault cases), and the popularity of the would-be defendant and related fall-out isn’t on the list of loopholes. Or at least it shouldn’t be.