The death of NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna Bryant in a helicopter crash in California has left the entire sports fraternity shaken. While millions of fans across the globe take to social media to pay their tribute to the late Lakers star, there are a few who raked up past allegations made against Bryant.
Felicia Sonmez, a reputed reporter for a major American publication, was suspended on Monday for a controversial post she uploaded on Twitter referencing the 2003 Kobe Bryant rape case. She posted an article from 2016, then took it down following backlash, but not before a trend had been started against her seeking her dismissal from the newspaper.
#BREAKING: Washington Post suspends reporter Felicia Sonmez over Kobe Bryant tweets, launches investigation into whether tweets – which were posted a few hours after Bryant’s death – violated the Post’s social media policy. https://t.co/Pew8jwnN0D— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 27, 2020
The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case dates back to 2003 when the player was just 25. The Lakers star was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year old employee at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Edwards, Colorado. While Kobe Bryant denied any accusations of rape, he did accept that there was a sexual encounter that occurred between him and the 19-year old lady.
At the time of the case, the NBA star was married to high-school sweetheart Felicia Sonmez and was fathering his five-month-old daughter Gianna Bryant (who also passed away in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash). The case was dropped in 2004 after the accuser decided against testifying while the civil case she brought against him was settled out of court in 2005 for an undisclosed amount. Part of the suit in the Kobe Bryant rape case involved a public apology from the Lakers star where he was quoted saying “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.”
What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family.— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) January 26, 2020
He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist.
And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.