My first memory of Kobe Bryant was him sitting at a press conference with his wife, Vanessa. He was denying he had raped a girl in Colorado and his wife was wearing a big fat “I’m Sorry” ring. I will readily admit I’m not a huge basketball fan. Sports news has to cross over into pop culture for me to notice. Kobe being accused of rape in 2003 crossed over.

I vaguely remember the victim was hurt, he denied, there was DNA evidence, and then he said she wanted it. So, your regular run of the mill reaction to when a woman is sexually violated.

But the whole affair was so awash with victim blaming and brutality that in the end the victim refused to testify and in September 2004 the charges were dropped. A civil trial followed and it was settled out of court with Kobe offering an apology but not a confession. Following that case, Colorado enacted rape shield laws so no victim would have to suffer the way Kobe’s victim did ever, ever again.

You can read more details here if you’re curious.

Now, it was a long time ago, he was 24 years old and he didn’t have 4 daughters and a more recent history of empowering women and winning Academy Awards. But back then, on that summer night in 2003, Kobe allegedly raped a woman and changed a woman’s life forever.

She reported the crime, and was vilified for it.

But then what?

If we aren’t going to kill him for it or put him in jail for it, then we have to find a way to move past the incident.

I admit,  I haven’t, but I’m thinking about it.

I’m one of those who tend to hold my feelings strong and not be very forgiving against celebrities. Lots of judgement inside of me. I do not enjoy listening to Michael Jackson, am totally on Team Aniston. and cut no slack to Trumpers.

But from all the things I’ve heard, Kobe had a 2nd act, and it was a damned good one. He was smart, and dedicated to excellence, and a loving father and a good person walking on this earth.  He had many friends and loved ones. To listen to all the tributes coming forth he’s right next to Mother Teresa. I’m truly touched by the outpouring of emotion and all he did to be a great dad and advance women’s rights.

AND, he allegedly raped a 19 year old hotel worker in Eagle, Colorado.

How do we square these 2 things?

What do we do with that?

Ignoring the complexity of the situation won’t do.

We think about it and we talk about it and we soul search about it.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Love and respect to his family and to those lost in this tragedy.

BTW, it bears repeating, 1 out of every 6 women are sexually assaulted in the United States. Learn more about the grim statistics here.