Globe headline: 'Did she really say no?'

Updated: November 1, 2003, 4:04 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Colorado's two largest grocery chains pulled a supermarket tabloid off the shelves today after it published a front-page photo and the name of the woman accusing NBA star Kobe Bryant of rape.

Kobe Bryant

King Soopers and its sister chain City Market will keep this week's issue of The Globe out of stores in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Safeway stores will not carry the issue at all.

City Market has a store in Eagle, the hometown of the 19-year-old woman accusing Bryant of rape.

The cover shows a photo of the woman reportedly taken at her high school prom. A headline asks, "Did she really say no?" The cover also states her name.

Store officials say the issue is too controversial to display openly.

"We made the decision to pull it from the racks so that customers would not be forced to view it as they went through the check-out lanes," said Trail Daugherty, a spokesman for King Soopers and City Market.

He said customers can buy copies at customer-service counters.

"We've never seen our role as a retailer to be a censor," he said.

Safeway spokesman Jeff Stroh told the Rocky Mountain News that company officials did not want to "participate in disclosing an alleged victim's name and photograph." He did not return calls Friday seeking additional details, including whether the chain's decision applied only to Colorado stores.

Major news organizations have not disclosed the woman's name or shown her picture. The Globe's decision to publicize the information drew sharp criticism from victims' advocates.

"It is still the main reason women don't report (assault)," said Cynthia Stone, spokeswoman for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The group wants retailers to pull the issue.

Globe editors Jim Lynch and Candace Trunzo defended their decision, saying, "It was appropriate to give our readers the whole story." They declined to comment further.

Bryant, a 25-year-old guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, faces trial on a felony charge of sexual assault. He is accused of attacking the woman on June 30 at a mountain resort near Edwards. Bryant has said the sex was consensual.

An attorney for the alleged victim did not return a call for comment.

Eagle County prosecutors are not concerned about any effects on potential jurors, spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said Friday.

But jury consultant Howard Varinsky of Oakland, Calif., said the publicity could have an effect.

"This kind of makes her a public figure and she's now fair game for anybody to investigate," he said. "The morality and the journalistic ethical argument and the privacy issue aside, it just opens the door for people out of her past that didn't know it was her to come out with allegations."

University of Colorado law school professor Christopher Mueller said the publicity was more likely to embarrass the woman than to threaten Bryant's right to a fair trial.

"What we require of a jury is not that they be innocent of all knowledge about the case," he said. "What we require is that the jury be able to say with conviction that they can put aside what they've heard and decide the case on the evidence."

Also Friday, state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said cameras can be used in the courtroom on Nov. 13, when Bryant is scheduled to be advised of his rights, the charge and the penalty he could face.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press