News organizations including MSNBC have policies against naming alleged victims of sexual assault. But the identity of Kobe Bryant’s accuser has recently been made public on various Web sites and now on the radio talk show circuit, courtesy of Tom Leykis. He’s a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and he joined The Abrams Report Wednesday to defend his actions.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: I know the argument you’re going to make as to why it’s important to release her name if his name is going to be released. But it seems to me there is no other crime out there where there’s a stigma associated with being a victim. Whether it’s a right stigma or wrong stigma, it exists. And doesn’t that in and of itself justify not releasing her name?
TOM LEYKIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think a fair trial is an overriding concern, more important than whether there is a stigma attached to it. And the fact is rape is, as we’ve been told by feminists for many years, a crime of violence, not a crime of sex. Therefore, if we report on people who are murdered, people who are carjacked, if we show footage on television of 7-Elevens and AM/PMs getting knocked over, and clerks being killed, we see both victims and perpetrators, then I don’t see why one crime should stick out among all the others. The bottom line is many people who are discussing this issue, for example, on radio talk shows, are interchangeably using words like the alleged victim and victim.
ABRAMS: But, this is, would you not agree, different in the way that it’s viewed by society? Maybe wrongly, but there’s no question that there’s no other crime where an alleged victim is stigmatized.
LEYKIS: Well, you’re leaving out the most important stigma here or certainly one that’s equally important. What about the stigma of Kobe Bryant being accused?
ABRAMS: But that’s the case with anyone who’s accused of any crime.
LEYKIS: I happen to believe that if you have to protect the name of one, you should protect the name of both because that would be fair.
ABRAMS: Then you apply that for every crime, correct?
LEYKIS: If there’s a stigma involved in being a victim, then you should also protect the name of the accused because, my God, if this is the horrific crime that we know it is, certainly you wouldn’t want to stigmatize somebody with the accusation that they’ve committed such a horrible crime without knowing if they’ve done it. When there is a false allegation, there’s going to be a victim in this case. It’s going to be Kobe Bryant.
THE ABRAMS REPORT PANEL DEBATES
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM, SAN FRANCISCO PROSECUTOR: I think his statements are just nonsensical. What about child molesters and other crimes that occur? That is analogist to the same situation. And what we see here, this is why less than three percent of actual rapes that occur in this country are even reported because there is such a stigma associated with victims of rape.
ABRAMS: Those statistics, I have to tell you, I’ve never really bought into those. I don’t know how you’d know what percentage of rapes are not reported. I mean, I’ve got to believe that that’s sort of a guess out there. I agree with you that there are a lot of rapes out there that are not reported, and the reason is because of this stigma.
LEYKIS: I want to address a hypocrisy here. I’ve been besieged by reporters talking to me about invading the privacy of the alleged victim in this case and most of them work for news organizations, which would include this one, by the way, who have reporters camped out in Eagle, Colorado, knocking at the door of the alleged victim and ringing her doorbell all day, every day, trying to get her to come outside and talk. They’re talking to all of her friends, talking to all of her co-workers, talking to the people who are in the school choir with her. If you people are so concerned about the privacy of the alleged victim in this case, then why don’t you all pack up your gear and leave Eagle, Colorado tonight? This is pure hypocrisy to sit here and listen to this.
ABRAMS: First of all, the argument I’ve been making with you hasn’t been one about privacy. It’s been one about the stigma and the unique nature of this type of crime.
JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Dan, I really take exception to some extent that the notion that it ought to be one-way street. I think the stigma attached to a defendant who is accused of rape or child molestation or any of those crimes is equally as bad. And to the extent you carve out an exception— you should carve out an exception for the defendant.
ABRAMS: No, no. We are a society where we are concerned about both, but we are uniquely concerned about victims.
BURRIS: Other crimes, I understand that. Some victim’s names are given. But the sexual molestation and rape cases are serious accusations that can stigmatize a person even if they, in fact, are found not guilty.
WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: For me this goes down to societal interest in balancing the victims of any crime coming forward. But sexual assault victims are unique in the sense. Dan, you might not believe that three out of 100, but I’ll tell you, and as a Catholic Church priest prosecutor, I would tell you it was less than one percent of cases that people came forward. I will tell you men hate their names coming out on those priest cases more than a typical woman does. What we’re trying to do is do a balancing test. The reason states have laws that say police report cannot go out with the names, even police chief can’t necessarily get the names that their investigators have, because we know people have not come forward and we have an interest in protecting victims.
TOM LEYKIS: Well, we would not have found the name of this person if it weren’t for the good work of reporters who printed the full first and last name of just about any friend who had talked to the alleged victim and the names of the places where they worked and where they went to school together. All the information was in an article in the “Los Angeles Times” and it was a very easy matter.
GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: The bottom line is if Mr. Leykis is trying to personally profit by increasing his ratings and visibility for his program, there’s nothing more than shock talk and imitation-Howard Stern.
TOM LEYKIS: All I’m going to say is everything we do on the radio, everything you do on television is done to get people to listen or watch.
ABRAMS: I don’t agree with you, Tom, but I think it’s a legitimate discussion and I think it’s an important one to have.