Naming Names

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photoKobe Bryant, the L.A. Lakers all-star, was charged with sexual assault this month. The name of his accuser, in accordance with journalistic precepts, was not released by mainstream media. Yet an L.A. radio talk show host named the alleged victim on the air in his drive time program, prompting outrage among victims' rights advocates and self-examination among journalists.

Thirty-three states have victim rights' amendments, and rape shield laws in many states protect the victim of alleged sexual assault. Those who oppose such public naming cite the stigma surrounding sexual assault and rape cases as a compelling reason to keep the alleged victim's identity confidential. Those who argue it's time to name the accuser argue secrecy only fuels ignorance about rape and that the accuser should be treated the same as victims of other violent crimes. Additionally, the internet has made anonymity for virtually everything, including rape victims' identities, impossible: main-stream media is no longer the gatekeeper for what information gets out to the general public.

Should alleged victims of sexual assault be identified? Is this simply part of the process of filing charges? Do you worry that women will be even more reluctant to report rape? Will naming names de-stigmatize rape in our society? Or, re-stigmatize the victims?


George Merritt, covering the Kobe Bryant story for the Denver Post;Jill McFadden, Executive Director Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Geneva Overholser, professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, former editor of the Des Moines Register where in 1991 the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on a rape victim who chose to identify herself

Trisha Meili, Central Park Jogger and author of the new book "I am The Central Park Jogger"

Randall Kennedy, "On Point " News Analyst, professor of law at Harvard University

This program aired on July 29, 2003.


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