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LETTERS

Naming accusers

August 03, 2003

David Shaw appears to feel that it may make sense to withhold a rape victim's name if, and only if, the attack occurred under ideal circumstances ("If the Accused Is Named, the Accuser Should Be Too," July 27). If the circumstances don't fit his idea of "incontrovertible" innocence, those unlucky victims should suck it up and face the media.

Rape is forcible sexual assault and if forcible assault took place, then this young woman is a rape victim. If this young woman is a rape victim then she is entitled to have her name withheld. Should she feel that this is an antiquated practice and that she will bear no stigma and no ill effects from her name being more widely known than it already is, she is free and able to reveal her identity to the wider public. But it is her decision.

It is unfortunate that the alleged perpetrators of crimes generally see their names published in the media, and perhaps there should be more effort made to support the attitude of "innocent until proven guilty" in the media and the justice system.

I am a huge basketball fan. Yes, it will be terribly unfair if Kobe Bryant is exonerated and the stigma of a sexual assault accusation stays with him for the rest of his life and career. But the plight of the accused does not justify dragging the accuser, and possible victim, into the "sunlight" of the court of public opinion.

Elizabeth Brooks

Los Angeles

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