Letter to the Editor: The University must rescind Kobe Bryant’s invitation

In 2003, Kobe Bryant was arrested after a 19-year-old hotel employee told police that he had raped her. She alleged that he had invited her into his room so she could give him a tour of the facilities, but he then kissed her, groped her, choked her when she tried to resist and then raped her.

Bryant at first denied there was any encounter when questioned by the police, but then conceded they had sex after being told the accuser had submitted a physical exam. Bryant denied that the encounter was nonconsensual, but the investigation found that the shirt Bryant wore during the encounter was stained with the accuser’s blood. Bryant even admitted to having choked her, saying that it’s his “thing.”

Bryant’s legal team attacked the accuser’s character rather than her evidence, citing her sexual history and alleged mental instability, and bringing up her name an unprecedented six times, which resulted in the destruction of her public reputation.

The methods the defense employed were so inflammatory they were cited as justification for the introduction of new rape shield legislation. After the defense decimated her reputation, the accuser refused to testify, and the judge dismissed the case. The two parties settled out of court, and Bryant released an apology which included the half-confession: “I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

The USC Marshall School of Business has decided to invite Bryant to speak at Bovard Auditorium on Monday, despite his history and the ongoing #MeToo movement which USC has claimed to support. If the school wants to demonstrate its commitment to condemning acts of sexual violence and protecting its students, it must rescind Bryant’s invitation to speak.

The point of the #MeToo movement isn’t just to exorcise Harvey Weinstein or any individual from prominence. It is to declare sexually oppressive behavior disqualifying. Men, and in particular prominent men like Kobe Bryant, have been able to shrug off substantiated allegations of predatory and violent sexual behavior as a quirk or a piece of trivia, rarely suffering major ramifications for their abhorrent behavior.

In many cases, such as Bryant’s, they continue to receive idolization unscathed. The #MeToo movement seeks to pry out the implicit acceptance of harassment, assault and rape from celebrity culture. It’s more than a condemnation of individuals, and it’s more than a scandal: It’s a moral awakening.

USC can’t have it both ways. It can’t make a spectacle of turning down $5 million from Harvey Weinstein, then accept the clout of Bryant. The School of Cinematic Arts rejected Weinstein’s donation after students petitioned it. The petition, which USC endorsed, read: “We don’t need this money. What we need are some damn principles.”

Now’s your chance USC. Show your damn principles.

Nathaniel Hyman

Freshman, philosophy, politics and law