Moments after Kobe Bryant died on Sunday, January 26, a Washington Post reporter identified as Felicia Sonmez unravelled the rape allegation instigated against the late basketballer in 2003.
Due to the insensitive context of the post; the reporter has since received her marching order from the American-based media house. As the criticism of Sonmez mounted Sunday night; a Post managing editor, Tracy Grant, instructed Sonmez to delete any tweets referring to her original posting.
The reporter sparked the uproar by linking to a 2016 Daily Beast article headlined “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence; the Accuser’s Story; and the Half-Confession.”
Kobe Bryant: Unravelling some skeletons in the closet
The story recounted details of an accusation of sexual assault against Bryant by a 19-year-old woman; employed by a Colorado hotel that Bryant visited in 2003.
Bryant was charged with sexual assault as well as false imprisonment; but the charges were dropped after the woman declined to testify.
The Los Angeles Lakers star acknowledged having sexual relations with the woman; but said the relationship was consensual. He later apologized to the woman; also acknowledging that she hadn’t given her consent.
In an interview, Sonmez said her intent was to fill in an important piece of information in the early accounts of Bryant’s life and career; as well as to counter tweets that had popped up dismissing the allegations against Bryant as insignificant.
“It was jarring to me to see the initial coverage [of Bryant’s death]; omitting any mention” of the 2003 case, she said. “The early obits and news stories made only passing mention” to it.
“The seriousness of those allegations is a valid part of his legacy and his life. Those allegations should not be minimized in any way.”
Sonmez took down the incriminating contents before receiving her suspension.
Watch the video published condemning the reporter.