Kobe rape case tweet lands Washington Post journalist in hot water

Gelo Gonzales
Kobe rape case tweet lands Washington Post journalist in hot water
The reporter is harassed after tweeting a link to an article titled 'Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession,' hours after the former player's death

MANILA, Philippines – A national political reporter for The Washington Post is in trouble after posting a controversial tweet relating to Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape case just hours after the former NBA player’s death on Monday, January 27, Philippine time. 

Felicia Sonmez posted a tweet that linked to a The Daily Beast article titled “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.” The story includes details of the then-19-year-old accuser’s testimony about how the player choked and forced himself into her even as she repeatedly said no. She added that she knew Bryant had heard her because “every time I said no he tightened his hold around me.” 

The case ended as the accuser refused to testify in a trial while a separate civil suit was settled out-of-court. 

Immediately after the tweet, Sonmez was hit with a barrage of replies from an angered Twitter mob – calling for her firing, that she be sent to Wuhan in China, and calling her out for what they perceived was insensitivity and a lack of empathy. 

Not everyone joined in on attacking the journalist. Some were supportive, saying the reporter was only stating facts that also make up who Kobe Bryant is. 

 

Sonmez eventually deleted the tweet, after reportedly receiving messages and emails from about 10,000 people, some of which were death threats.

“Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling. That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn’t even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases,” said Somnez. 

While Sonmez has since deleted the tweets, they have been captured via screenshots: 

 

 

The Washington Post’s managing editor, Tracy Grant, told the Daily Mail the reporter was “was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy.”

“The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues,” she said.

Meanwhile, another report said the suspension was related to one of Sonmez’s additional tweets which had a screen shot of her work email inbox. The inbox screenshot revealed the full names of those emailing her. – Rappler.com

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.