Criminal Justice Paper on Kobe Bryant Sexual Assault Case

Kobe Bryant Sexual Assault Case

The Sexual Assault Case

Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case was initiated in July 2003. This was after the United States’ media reported that a professional basketball player had been arrested by Colorado’s sheriff to assist with the investigation of a sexual assault complaint which had been filed by a certain 19-year-old female hotel employee (Markovitz, 2006). Kobe had scheduled an operation with Dr. Richard Steadman on July 2 and hence had checked in at a hotel in Edwards, Colorado two days prior to the operation. According to the victim’s allegations, Kobe raped her in his hotel room on the eve of his operation, that is, on July 1st (Markovitz, 2006). Upon arrest, Kobe admitted that he had had an extramarital sexual encounter with his victim but vehemently denied the assault allegations. This led to a sexual case which the media was heavily involved. However, the case was later dropped after the accuser refused to testify against the defendant and instead opted to open a civil lawsuit which was settled without its stipulations being made public.


The first confrontation was done on July 2 whereby the sexual assault accusations were presented to Bryant by Eagle County Sheriff investigators. During an interview with the investigators, Kobe maintained that the sexual intercourse with the accuser was consensual (Franiuk et al., 2008). As such, the investigators collected preliminary evidence from Bryant, and consequently, he voluntarily agreed to submit a lie detector test and also to submit to a rape test kit, which is a package of items used by medical personnel to gather and preserve physical evidence in response to an allegation of sexual assault. On July 4, 2003, an arrest of warrant was signed by the Sherriff after which Bryant took a plane from Los Angeles to Colorado to surrender to the police.  He was subsequently released on a bond after which the arrest was made to be public affairs (Markovitz, 2006).  It was this turn of events which led to Bryant holding a press conference and clarifying that he had not raped his accuser.

Evidence and Hearing

During the hearings, the prosecution accused Kobe’s defense team of demeaning his accuser’s credibility. It was shown that the accuser’s underwear contained pubic hair and semen which belonged to a Caucasian. As such, according to Kobe’s defense team, the exam results showed evidence of innocence since the accuser must have had sex with a Caucasian man, a contradiction since Kobe is an African American. However, his accuser stated that she wore dirty underwear by mistake when she went for her rape examinations. Moreover, the examination of the lady showed vaginal trauma, a factor which was explained by the defense team as being as a result of having lots of sexual intercourse (Franiuk et al., 2008).

On Bryant’s part, the evidence which connected him to the case was the T-shirt which he had been wearing on the material night. The cloth had three small stains of blood which matched that of the accuser noted through DNA testing (Markovitz, 2006). However, the blood was not menstrual since it was confirmed that the accuser had her menses two weeks earlier. This blood was said to have been drawn by Kobe forcefully leaning the lady over a chair to have sexual intercourse with her hence showing that it was actually a forced one. This was the sexual act in question since the lady had told Kobe that he was hurting her but he wouldn’t stop. On his part, Kobe stated that he had stopped to ask the accuser whether he could ejaculate on her face (Franiuk et al., 2008).

The defense team later showed that the accuser had schizophrenia during the time of allegations and was taking anti-psychotic drugs (Nash, 2008). Additionally, the defense team showed that she had been she had an unstable mind, a fact which was shown by the fact that she had previously been hospitalized since she was a danger to herself (Franiuk et al., 2008). Additionally, the woman was receiving hate mails and death threats. As such, these circumstances compounded with the accuser’s moral character and reputation were used by the defense team to build a solid defense for Kobe (Nash, 2008).


The case was later dropped after the accuser refused to testify against the defendant and instead opted to open a civil lawsuit. Hence, the accuser filed a civil lawsuit against Kobe before the case was scheduled to go to trial. This lawsuit was settled with the specifications of the settlement being disclosed to the public (Franiuk et al., 2008).

Comparison of the Case this with the Technology that is available today to Forensic Scientists

The Kobe sex assault case took place fifteen years. Since then, the technology at the disposal of forensic scientists has improved and become more accurate in showing whether a rape has occurred. Studies show that the use of rape kits that were in use in 2003 was an inefficient means of testing for rape incidences as they take long periods of time to be tested and are limited in the amount of information that they give. In contemporary times, newer technologies are available which drastically reduce the amount of time taken in taking a DNA profile from two months into a mere two hours. One such technology which is supported by empirical studies is the RapidHIT manufactured by IntegenX which looks like a copy machine. In this case, Swabs taken from a suspect are put into the RapidHIT and are immediately profiled, compared to profiles of offenders, as well as compared with the relevant crime scene (Cross et al., 2017). For investigators, this approach means that they can obtain crime results while a suspect is still being questioned hence this has become a game-changer in sexual assault investigations. With respect to Kobe’s investigations, this technology could have been used while the case was still in its initial stages to ascertain whether a rape had taken place or not.

Improved DNA technology which is used presently could have also been used to change the outcome of the case (Cross et al., 2017). With respect to the accuser’s small blood stains found in Kobe’s T-shirt, the contemporary technology could be used to show exactly where the blood came from and hence show whether what took place at the hotel room was a consensual action or a sexual assault. With this type of technology, the accuser would not have had to undergo long processes of trials since the results of the DNA technology would suffice to convict Kobe.

Lastly, the use of crime profiling used presently could cause a change in the direction of the case. This technology encompasses reviewing crime and rebuilding it to show exactly what transferred on the material day (Heydon & Powell, 2016). This rebuilding helps the entities involved in convicting the accused to have a first-hand experience on what might have taken place. As such, this technology would help in showing whether what happened between Kobe and his accuser was forced sex or consensual sex.



From the above expostulation, it is shown that the technology used in investigating sexual assault cases determines the outcome greatly. However, in Kobe’s sexual assault case, the accuser claims that she was raped while Kobe maintains that it was consensual action. In this case, it is already agreed that the two had sex hence what needs to be ascertained is whether it was forced sex or both parties partook in it willingly. This was hard to determine based on the type of technology used in 2003 since it encompassed the use of rape test kits and lie detection machines. Contemporary technologies such as the use of RapidHIT machines, improved DNA testing, and criminal profiling could help in ascertaining on whether it was a rape case or not hence this would have speeded the time that would be taken to convict Kobe without the accuser having to be passed through numerous trials. Empirical studies support the contemporary technologies and hence can stand up to a Daubert Hearing since they encompass scientific method/methodology and are relevant to the case which they would be seeking to demystify. In essence, these technologies encompass bringing out crime evidence in a quicker way without necessarily coming up with any data of their own hence aiding in quickening investigations.



Cross, T. P., Alderden, M., Wagner, A., Sampson, L., Peters, B., & Lounsbury, K. (2017). Biological evidence in adult and adolescent sexual assault cases: timing and relationship to arrest. Journal of interpersonal violence.

Heydon, G., & Powell, A. (2016). Written-response interview protocols: An innovative approach to confidential reporting and victim interviewing in sexual assault investigations. Policing and Society, 1-16.

Franiuk, R., Seefelt, J. L., Cepress, S. L., & Vandello, J. A. (2008). Prevalence and effects of rape myths in print journalism: The Kobe Bryant case. Violence Against Women, 14(3), 287-309.

Markovitz, J. (2006). Anatomy of a spectacle: Race, gender, and memory in the Kobe Bryant rape case. Sociology of Sports Journal, 23(4), 396-418.

Nash, J. C. (2008). Re-thinking intersectionality. Feminist Review, 89(1), 1-15.