Justice interrupted is no justice at all
September 2, 2004
“Today justice is sadly interrupted. The casualty in this interruption has been a brave young woman who was grievously hurt.”
With those words, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert dropped the rape charges last week against basketball star Kobe Bryant in Eagle, Colo.
Does it matter that justice was interrupted?
The case was dismissed because the woman who accused Bryant no longer was willing to testify. The pain of a public trial – and 14 months of scrutiny by the media and public – had become more difficult than she could stand.
As for Bryant, his well-scrubbed image has been forever tarnished without a chance for acquittal after the evidence was heard in court.
Does it matter?
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A civil case will continue against Bryant, so the incident isn’t resolved yet. Whether it will result in a big payoff for the victim remains to be seen. Bryant has admitted publicly to a crime – adultery – but will not be punished by anyone other than his family.
That a rape case in Colorado involving a sports celebrity has ended so inconclusively shouldn’t stand out, because there are thousands of cases involving thousands of victims going on every day across the United States.
Justice, sadly, gets interrupted fairly regularly. And many brave young women and men have been grievously hurt.
That this case was publicized and scrutinized internationally makes it no more or less important than all those other cases. All matter to the victims and accused. All matter to society in the way justice is carried out, or not.
And like so many of those cases, it is over without the public knowing the true facts of the allegation or the evidence against the accused. Yes, such cases are difficult to prosecute. But if the district attorney in Eagle had cause to bring charges against Bryant, then the case should have gone to trial.
Justice interrupted is no justice at all. That should matter to everyone in every case.