Shield or Sieve? People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High- Profile Cases

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1 Shield or Sieve? People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High- Profile Cases RICHARD I. HADDAD Rape shield laws are evidentiary measures that aim to protect rape complainants privacy and dignity by preventing the disclosure of damaging and irrelevant information about their sexual history at trial. More broadly, by defending complainants privacy interests, these laws encourage the reporting of sexual assaults and further the prosecution of such crimes. As an evidentiary measure, however, the scope of the rape shield law is limited, and in high-profile cases, its protections can crumble under the glare of the public spotlight. This Note uses the case of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant to examine the operation and effectiveness of the rape shield law in cases involving celebrity defendants. It argues that the humiliation that his accuser suffered cannot be blamed on a failure of the rape shield law itself. Rather, the case highlights broader institutional deficiencies that often plague high-profile adjudications. Instead of targeting the construction of the rape shield law itself, effective reform should focus on curing these institutional deficiencies. I. INTRODUCTION On June 30, 2003, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was indicted on charges of sexually assaulting a nineteen-year-old hotel desk clerk. 1 On September 1, 2004, Colorado prosecutors decided to drop the case against Bryant, citing his accuser s unwillingness Writing and Research Editor, COLUM. J. L. & SOC. PROBS., The author thanks Professor Robert A. Ferguson for his invaluable guidance and commentary, and is grateful to Todd Anten, Rebecca Gutner, and Patty Li for their efforts and suggestions throughout the editing process. 1. Moira McDonough, Internet Disclosures of a Rape Accuser s Identity (Focus on the Kobe Bryant Case), 3 VA. SPORTS & ENT. L. J. 284, (2004).

2 186 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems [39:185 to go forward. 2 Although the accuser never came forward publicly, she was subjected to an enormous amount of negative publicity. Despite a judge s early decorum order prohibiting the reporting of the accuser s name, 3 her name, yearbook photo, phone number, home address, address, and aerial photos of her home were all widely available on the Internet soon after her accusation. 4 Syndicated radio talk show host Tom Leykis made national headlines by stating her name on the air during a national broadcast. 5 Websites created consumer products like underwear, t-shirts, tank tops and coffee mugs bearing the accuser s name and pictures of her and Bryant. 6 Many of these public images were affixed to derogatory statements such as whore alert and lying bitch, and included digitally altered photographs depicting her in sexual positions with Bryant. 7 These disclosures and images were not limited to the Internet. At grocery stores nationwide, tabloids affixed her name to pictures capturing her in party-hearty mode, conveying the prejudicial implication that women who party can t also be rape victims. 8 Even the mainstream press, while taking great pains to refrain from reporting her name, 9 disclosed her age, hometown, college, and hobbies. It published obscure details including her failed audition for American Idol, the death of a girlfriend, an alleged drug overdose, and a breakup with a boyfriend, and repeated salacious stories that her alleged friends shared on morning television and with newspapers and magazines Steve Henson & Lance Pugmire, Prosecution Drops Charges in Kobe Bryant Rape Case, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 2, 2004, at A1 (quoting Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert). 3. Kate Zernike, What Privacy? Everything Else but the Name, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 3, 2003, 4, at McDonough, supra note 1, at Bob Baker, The Internet Is Reshaping Bryant Story, L.A. TIMES, July 26, 2003, at A1 6. McDonough, supra note 1, at Id. at 285, Mike Littwin, Rape Shield Law Can t Offer Complete Protection, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, Mar. 2, 2004, at 7A. 9. See infra Part V.B. 10. Zernike, supra note 3.

3 2005] People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High-Profile Cases 187 More ominously, there were hundreds of threats against the accuser s life, 11 several of which led to arrests. 12 Rumors surfaced in late November 2003 that intense media scrutiny spurred the accuser to seek medical treatment, and her attorneys say she fled her hometown after facing public scorn, hatred, and ridicule. 13 In a March 2004 letter to the court, her mother implored the court to set a trial date: the letter detailed the death threats from which the family s worries stemmed and the accuser s efforts to escape public scrutiny by leaving school, avoiding friends and family, and moving to four states in six months. 14 After receiving hundreds of s daily some containing death threats, others from men asking for dates the accuser shut down her e- mail and phone accounts. 15 In effect, her life was ruined over the course of the proceedings. Rape shield laws are evidentiary measures that aim to protect rape complainants privacy and dignity by preventing the disclosure of damaging and irrelevant information about their sexual history at trial. More broadly, in defending complainants privacy interests, rape shield laws encourage the reporting of sexual assaults and further the prosecution of such crimes. 16 This Note uses Bryant s case as a lens through which to examine the operation and effectiveness of the rape shield law in cases involving celebrity defendants. Although commentators have attributed the disintegration of the case against Bryant, and the plight to which his accuser was subjected, to the ineffectiveness of the rape shield law, 17 this Note argues that, as an evidentiary measure, 11. According to the accuser s mother, the accuser had been the target of hundreds of death threats and thousands of obscene messages. Steve Henson, Bryant s Accuser s Mother Pleads for Quicker Process, L.A. TIMES, Mar. 26, 2004, at A The FBI became involved, and three men were arrested in separate incidents, two of whom eventually went to prison. Jeff Benedict & Steve Henson, The Case Against Kobe Bryant Unraveled in a Mock Trial, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 6, 2004, at A Kathryn Masterson, Trial Turnaround, CHI. TRIB. RedEye Edition, Sept. 2, 2004, at 9 (quoting the complainant s attorneys). 14. Henson & Pugmire, supra note Benedict & Henson, supra note See, e.g., Jeffrey Matrullo, Note, People v. Bryant and Prior Restraint: The Unsettling of a Settled Area of Law, 4 CONN. PUB. INT. L.J. 347, 366 (2005). 17. See, e.g., Michelle J. Anderson, Time to Reform Rape Shield Laws: Kobe Bryant Case Highlights Holes in the Armor, 19 CRIM. JUST. 14 (Summer 2004), available at 2004 WL ; Michelle J. Anderson, Toughen Rape Shield Laws, CHI. TRIB., Sept. 3, 2004, at C21 ( A stronger rape shield law might have provided the scaffolding necessary to allow the prosecution to present its case.... The Bryant case signals that it is time to

4 188 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems [39:185 the rape shield law operated in the exact manner it should have. The law itself was not the problem. As an evidentiary protection, however, the scope of the rape shield law is limited, and Bryant s case highlighted broader deficiencies by which rape complainants privacy interests can be injured. Many of these problems stemmed from extralegal factors inherent to the high-profile nature of the case. To cure these deficiencies, effective reform must therefore aim to supplement, rather than change, current rape shield laws. The high-profile nature of Bryant s case did not affect the operation of the rape shield law itself. Because the proceedings and the parties involved were thrust under the public microscope, however, the purposes for which the rape shield law was erected were defeated. Part II of this Note examines the history and development of the rape shield law and explores the differences among the versions used in various jurisdictions. Part III demonstrates that in Bryant s case, the Colorado rape shield law operated as effectively as any existing or proposed rape shield law could have. Despite this legal effectiveness, the complainant s ordeal indicates that the purposes for which rape shield laws were enacted were not achieved. This failure does not impugn the rape shield law itself, however; as shown in Parts IV and V, the complainant s experience is attributable to the public scrutiny to which the case was subjected and the governmental ineptitude that plagued its adjudication. Each of these factors stemmed from the case s high-profile nature, and each fed off of and exacerbated the effects of the others. Part V examines the legacy of the case and the role played by the evolution of the media and advances in communications technology, and Part VI surveys the legal reforms that have been proposed in its aftermath. This Note concludes that, rather than aiming at the rape shield law or the media, effective reform must target the courts and other governmental actors. The state can protect complainants privacy, safety, and dignity, but to mitigate the effects of governmental and judicial error, reform must reduce the possibility of its occurrence. reform rape shield laws to provide victims with real protection at trial. ); Editorial, Shame on Us: Bryant Trial Reveals our Attitudes on Rape, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Sept. 3, 2004, at 34A (calling rape shield laws a pathetic joke ).

5 2005] People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High-Profile Cases 189 Moreover, in a high-profile case, such a reduction will minimize the exacerbating effects of the media spotlight. These institutions have the power and authority to buttress the protections offered by rape shield law and to ensure that such laws are truly wielded as shields. II. THE RAPE SHIELD LAW: HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Spurred by dissatisfaction with existing rape laws and the movement for women s social and political equality, legislatures began constructing rape shield laws in the 1970s and 1980s. 18 The legal reform movement from which these laws stemmed has been characterized as a powerful confluence of feminism and national concerns regarding law and order and public safety. 19 Rape shield statutes were created to prevent the disclosure of information about complainants sexual history at trial. 20 These laws aimed principally to protect rape victims from the public exposure of their private sexual lives, as illustrated by the original title of the federal rape shield law, the Privacy Protection for Rape Victims Act. 21 In addition, rape shield advocates contended that the enhancement of complainants privacy and dignity during the reporting and prosecution of sex crimes would serve to increase the reporting of such crimes and to ensure greater success in their prosecution by precluding the prejudicial effects of the presentation of a complainant s sexual history. 22 It is estimated that 80% of rapes go unreported, and when they are reported, the likelihood that a rape complaint will lead to a conviction is estimated at 2% 5%. 23 The discrepancy between the reporting and actual occurrence of rapes can be attributed primarily to the traditional practice by which an alleged rape victim s trial testimony often 18. See Marah demeule, Privacy Protections for the Rape Complainant: Half a Fig Leaf, 80 N.D. L. REV. 145, 147 (2004). 19. See Cristina Carmody Tilley, A Feminist Repudiation of the Rape Shield Laws, 51 DRAKE L. REV. 45, 48 (2002). 20. See Megan Reidy, The Impact of Media Coverage on Rape Shield Laws in High- Profile Cases: Is the Victim Receiving a Fair Trial?, 54 CATH. U. L. REV. 297, 300 (2004). 21. Michelle J. Anderson, From Chastity Requirement to Sexuality License: Sexual Consent and a New Rape Shield Law, 70 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 51, 56 (2002). 22. See DeMeule, supra note 18, at See David P. Bryden & Sonja Lengnick, Rape in the Criminal Justice System, 87 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 1194, (1997).

6 190 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems [39:185 devolved into an expedition through her sexual history. 24 The fear of undergoing an ordeal in which that history is publicly disclosed deters many victims from reporting the crime, and those who do report are easily dissuaded from following through on the prosecution and enduring the trial to its conclusion. 25 In response to these concerns, Michigan passed the first rape shield law in 1974, and the rest of the states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government eventually followed suit. 26 These laws can be roughly divided into four categories, distinguishable by the basis and form of their exceptions: (1) legislated exceptions laws, which contain general prohibitions on evidence of prior sexual conduct, subject to at least one legislated exception; (2) constitutional catch-all laws, which, in addition to prohibiting evidence of prior sexual conduct, subject to at least one legislated exception, contain an explicit exception allowing the admission of any evidence that, if excluded, would infringe upon the rights guaranteed to a defendant by the federal Constitution; (3) judicial discretion laws, which, instead of including legislated exceptions, simply grant to judges the broad discretion to admit or bar evidence of a woman s sexual history; and (4) evidentiary purpose laws, which determine the admissibility of a woman s sexual history based on the purpose for which the evidence is offered at trial. 27 A. COLORADO S RAPE SHIELD LAW Colorado s rape shield statute, section of the Colorado Revised Statutes, falls within the third category. 28 In keeping with the general purposes described above, and as articulated by the state s highest court, the law signifies the Colorado legislature s unequivocal commitment to the principle that victims of sexual assault should not be subjected to psychological or emotional abuse as the price of their cooperation in prosecuting sex 24. Matrullo, supra note 16, at Indeed, victims have claimed that involvement with the criminal justice system has been almost as bad as the sexual assault itself. People v. Bryant, 94 P.3d 624, (Colo. 2004). 26. Anderson, supra note 21, at Id. at Id. at 84.

7 2005] People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High-Profile Cases 191 offenders. 29 The statute aims to protect rape and sexual assault victims from immaterial and humiliating public fishing expeditions into their past sexual conduct 30 and to avoid subjecting rape victims to the second trauma that inheres to an irrelevant and embarrassing probe into the intimate details of their personal lives. 31 Under Colorado s law, evidence of specific instances of the victim s or a witness s prior or subsequent sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim s or a witness s sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the victim s or a witness s sexual conduct shall... be presumed to be irrelevant and therefore inadmissible at trial. 32 The law then articulates three exceptions to this rule, including evidence of the victim s or witness s prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the actor 33 and evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing the source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, or any similar evidence of sexual intercourse offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts charged were or were not committed by the defendant. 34 The third exception is the most expansive; it relies on the use of in camera hearings to determine the admissibility of contested evidence, granting the judge the broad discretion to admit evidence of a woman s sexual history if such evidence is deemed relevant to a material issue in the case. 35 Critics have argued that this law fails to protect victims at all that, in effect, this provision grants judges the same power that they exercised before the enactment of rape shield laws. 36 The law does not function as a shield because the complainant s protection is left largely to the judge s discretion: the onus to protect the victim is shifted from the law to the judge. 37 Because of the sweeping nature of this provision and the amount 29. People v. McKenna, 585 P.2d 275, 278 (Colo. 1978). 30. Id. 31. Claudia J. Bayliff, Past Imperfect, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, Oct. 18, 2003, at 12C. 32. Colo. Rev. Stat (1) (2005). 33. Colo. Rev. Stat (1)(a) (2005). 34. Colo. Rev. Stat (1)(b) (2005). 35. Colo. Rev. Stat (2)(e) (2005). 36. Anderson, supra note 21, at Id.

8 192 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems [39:185 of discretion that it gives to the judge, Colorado s shield law is understood to be relatively toothless. 38 B. RULE 412 OF THE FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE By contrast, the federal rape shield law, Rule 412 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, is viewed as the nation s sturdiest. 39 The federal rule, a constitutional catch-all law, governs admissibility of evidence in any federal proceeding involving allegations of sexual misconduct. 40 In criminal cases, the rule permits the admission of evidence involving the complainant s sexual history or predisposition under only three circumstances. 41 Two of these mimic the first two exceptions to Colorado s rape shield statute. First, evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the alleged victim can be offered to prove that a person other than the accused was the source of semen, injury, or other physical evidence. 42 Second, evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the alleged victim with respect to the accused can be offered by the accused to prove consent. 43 The third exception to Rule 412 distinguishes it from Colorado s shield; 44 under the federal constitutional catch-all provision, all evidence the exclusion of which would violate the constitutional rights of the defendant is admissible. 45 Like Colorado s judicial discretion exception, critics have derided this constitutional catch-all because of the sweeping discretionary power that it confers to judges. According to this line of criticism, the catchall often crumbles what is left of the shield because courts routinely misinterpret and exaggerate the scope of the defendant s constitutional right to inquire into the complainant s sexual history Maura Dolan, Signs in Bryant Statement Point to Deal in Works, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 2, 2004, at A1 ( Colorado s shield law is considered relatively weak, although other aspects of the state s sexual assault laws are unfavorable to defendants. ). 39. Id. (the federal rape shield law is often viewed as the most favorable to accusers of any in the nation. ). 40. Fed. R. Evid. 412(a). 41. Fed. R. Evid. 412(b)(1). 42. Fed. R. Evid. 412(b)(1)(A). 43. Fed. R. Evid. 412(b)(1)(B). 44. Colorado s law is, of course, also subject to constitutional limitations. 45. Fed. R. Evid. 412(b)(1)(C). 46. Anderson, supra note 21, at 56.

9 2005] People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High-Profile Cases 193 Such derision rings hollow under closer examination. At worst, in light of the function of the Constitution as a mandatory constraint on all legislative acts, the catch-all can be labeled superfluous in that it simply reemphasizes judicial authority to admit evidence when the Constitution demands such an admission. 47 Indeed, one scholar has called the provision little more than an unimaginative attempt to avoid constitutional challenges to rape shield laws. 48 At best, the provision can be applauded for ensuring that the constitutional rights guaranteed to the accused will not be eclipsed by the protections extended to the accuser or outweighed by an accuser s potential embarrassment. Moreover, while Rule 412 can be construed to leave the victim s protection up to the judge s discretion, that discretion is not unlimited: evidence is admissible only where the Constitution demands its admission. This constitutional grounding distinguishes Rule 412 from Colorado s rape shield statute. Federal appellate courts rarely find Rule 412 s constitutional exception to be violated, 49 and this rarity further undermines the aforementioned criticism. III. SHIELD OR SIEVE? THE APPLICATION OF THE COLORADO RAPE SHIELD LAW IN PEOPLE v. BRYANT Federal and state rape statutes are so riddled with holes that they often function more like sieves than shields.... The Bryant case signals that it is time to reform rape shield laws to provide victims with real protection at trial. Professor Michelle J. Anderson 50 Commentators like Professor Anderson, a prominent and vocal rape law scholar, 51 have blamed the disintegration of the case 47. Harriet R. Galvin, Shielding Rape Victims in the State and Federal Courts: A Proposal for the Second Decade, 70 MINN. L. REV. 763, 886 (1986). 48. Id. 49. See, e.g., United States v. Powell, 226 F.3d 1181, (10th Cir. 2000) (affirming the exclusion of evidence of the minor victim s alleged sexual acts with other parties. The court noted that, given the nature of important governmental interests of protecting the victim against invasion of privacy, embarrassment, and stereotyping, the exclusion of the evidence was not sufficiently weighty to warrant finding a constitutional violation. ). 50. Anderson, Toughen Rape Shield Laws, supra note 17.

10 194 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems [39:185 against Bryant and the corresponding devastation of his accuser s privacy on the weakness of Colorado s rape shield law, arguing that a [s]tronger rape shield law might have provided the scaffolding necessary to allow the prosecution to present its case. 52 In Bryant s case, Judge Terry Ruckriegle held admissible the accuser s sexual activity in the 72-hour span preceding her medical examination and her sexual history with two key prosecution witnesses. 53 This ruling delivered a crushing blow to the prosecution and to the complainant, and critics point to it as proof of the ineffectiveness of the Colorado rape shield law. 54 This evidence, however, would have been admitted under any existing rape shield law, 55 including Rule 412, which Anderson characterizes as the most favorable to accusers of any in the nation. 56 A. AS COMPARED TO EXISTING LAWS In a closed hearing, a defense DNA expert testified that another man s semen had been found on the body of Bryant s accuser during her medical examination, but noted that Bryant s own post-incident physical examination failed to produce any indication of a second man s DNA. 57 Based on this evidence, the expert contended that the accuser had sex with the other man in the hours after she was with Bryant. 58 In addition to offering an alternative explanation for the accuser s injuries, this testimony cast doubt on the truth of her previous testimony, and under section (1)(b) of Colorado s rape shield law, her sexual activity in the 72-hour span preceding her medical examination was admitted only in light of this significance. Similarly, section (b)(1)(a) of 51. Professor Anderson s research and published work focus on rape law, law and sexuality, and feminist legal theory. See biographies/faculty/anderson/. 52. Anderson, Toughen Rape Shield Laws, supra note Henson & Pugmire, supra note Anderson, Toughen Rape Shield Laws, supra note 17 ( The Bryant prosecution fell apart when... Judge Terry Ruckriegle applied Colorado s rape shield law and admitted evidence of the alleged victim s sexual activities.... Defense attorneys intended to put the victim on trial, and the rape shield law did not prevent them. ). 55. Dolan, supra note 38 ( No shield law would have prevented defense lawyers from presenting that evidence to a jury. ). 56. Id. 57. Lance Pugmire & David Wharton, Case Showed Cracks Early, Experts Say, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 2, 2004, at A Id.

11 2005] People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High-Profile Cases 195 Rule 412 would have allowed the admission of this evidence for the same purposes of physical identification. Judge Ruckriegle also admitted evidence of the accuser s prior sexual involvement with two of the state s witnesses under Colorado s judicial discretion provision. 59 Because these witnesses testified for the prosecution, this evidence would be admissible under section (b)(1)(c) of Rule 412, the constitutional catch-all, pursuant to the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, which provides a defendant the opportunity to prove his accuser s bias. 60 B. AS COMPARED TO A PROPOSED MODEL RAPE SHIELD In light of the perceived deficiencies of existing rape shield laws, Anderson has designed a New Rape Shield Law to protect women s sexual license and to ensure that consent to sexual intercourse is temporally constrained, specific as to act, and nontransferable to others. 61 In Bryant s case, however, even this model shield would not have prevented the admission of the aforementioned evidence. This undermines Anderson s criticism of the Colorado rape shield and her attribution of the deterioration of the case against Bryant to the weakness of that law. Moreover, the failure of Anderson s model shield to produce a different evidentiary result weakens the reasons underlying demands for rape shield enhancement. Under Anderson s proposed rape shield law, [d]irect or opinion evidence of the complainant s sexual conduct and sexual communication prior or subsequent to the instance in question is inadmissible, subject to three exceptions, including (1) Evidence of an alternate source for the semen, pregnancy, disease, or injury that the complainant suffered; (2) Evidence of negotiations between the complainant and the defendant to convey consent in a specific way or to engage in a specific sexual act at issue; and (3) Evidence of the complainant s bias or motive to fabricate the 59. Id. One of these witnesses was the bellboy at the hotel at which Bryant s encounter with his accuser took place. The bellboy was the first person with whom the accuser spoke after the incident. He testified for the prosecution, but had had sex with the accuser two days before the incident. The second witness was the accuser s ex-boyfriend, who also testified for the prosecution. 60. See infra note Anderson, supra note 21, at 147.

12 196 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems [39:185 charge of rape. 62 These exceptions are tightly tailored to the three elements of the crime of rape: the first exception accounts for evidence that would be relevant to sexual penetration and force, and the second and third account for evidence that would be relevant to non-consent. 63 Bryant s defense offered evidence of his accuser s sexual activity in the 72-hour span preceding her medical examination to provide a plausible alternative explanation for the physical injuries that the accuser may have suffered. Bryant s defense sought to delineate these injuries as the product of multiple consensual sexual encounters occurring within a short period of time. The first exception to Anderson s proposal clearly renders such evidence admissible. In justifying this exception, Anderson acknowledges that, [t]o the extent that the state wants to prove that the defendant caused a physical injury in an effort to prove the element of force, the defendant should be able to refute that showing, even if it means revealing the woman s unrelated sexual history. 64 Similarly, Anderson s third exception would allow the admission of evidence regarding the accuser s previous sexual involvement with two prosecution witnesses for the same reason that Judge Ruckriegle admitted this evidence under Colorado s judicial discretion provision: the admission of this evidence ensured Bryant s ability to present evidence of the complainant s (here, her witnesses ) bias. Moreover, according to Anderson s own arguments, its admission is constitutionally required: as Anderson demonstrates, the third exception to her proposal comports with a powerful line of Supreme Court jurisprudence emphasizing the constitutional imperative of allowing the defendant to probe for witness or complainant bias. 65 Rather than functioning as a sieve, therefore, Colorado s rape shield merely condoned Bryant s exercise of that constitutional right, and Anderson s proposed shield would have produced the same evidentiary rulings. 62. Id. 63. Id. 64. Id. at Together, Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 (1974), Delaware v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673 (1986), and Olden v. Kentucky, 488 U.S. 227 (1988) (per curiam) serve to secure defendants right to cross-examine witnesses for bias under the Confrontation Clause. See Anderson, supra note 21, at

13 2005] People v. Bryant and the Rape Shield Law in High-Profile Cases 197 Instead of allowing a defendant accused of rape to present as evidence all the promiscuous sexual history he can find to tarnish the complainant in the eyes of the jury, Anderson s proposal lets him defend himself by using the complainant s prior sexual history only when such evidence is relevant to an element of the crime and not prejudicial to the truth-seeking process. 66 The admissibility of the aforementioned evidence under Anderson s proposed shield does not discredit or expose any flaw in her proposal. Rather, it corroborates the validity and necessity of the evidentiary rulings and relevant exceptions by which this evidence was admitted in Bryant s case. Moreover, in the face of Anderson s and others derision of the Colorado rape shield and its operation in Bryant s case, the production of identical evidentiary results under Anderson s proposed shield redeems the technical effectiveness of Colorado s rape shield statute. If Anderson s proposal can be viewed as a standard by which rape shield laws should be measured, this uniformity of results demonstrates that, in Bryant s case, the rape shield law operated exactly as it should have. 67 IV. THE MANIFESTATIONS OF CELEBRITY: THE PROBLEMS THAT INHERE TO HIGH-PROFILE CASES What s clear to see is that the problem with high-profile rape cases is that, inevitably, for all involved, they re high-profile rape cases. Mike Littwin, The Rocky Mountain News 68 If the rape shield law worked in Bryant s case, the severe humiliation and trauma that his accuser suffered indicates the existence of other legal inadequacies. Bryant s fame guaranteed that every nuance of his case would be closely followed on television, in newspapers and magazines, on the Internet, and at water coolers, sports bars, coffee shops, and other gathering places nation- 66. Anderson, supra note 21, at In keeping with this analysis, other commentators argue that, throughout Bryant s case, Colorado s rape shield law operated effectively and remained intact. Amy Herdy, Weak Case Closes with a Whimper, DENV. POST, Sept. 2, 2004, at A Littwin, supra note 8.

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