Kobe Bryant’s 19-year-old accuser sent her ex-boyfriend to tell her story, including her two suicide attempts, to journalist Lesley Stahl on CBS’s “48 Hours Investigates,” which aired the interview Saturday night.
“There is no doubt in my mind that she has been taken advantage of by Kobe Bryant. There is no doubt in my mind that Kobe Bryant raped my friend,” said JohnRay Strickland, also 19 and a sophomore at the University of Northern Colorado.
Strickland, who is no longer involved with the woman (but said they remain friends), explained that he was talking about the case because a judge’s gag order prohibits his ex-girlfriend from doing so.
“She wanted somebody to come out and really stand up for her. And people have been really, really treating her like the bad guy in this, when she definitely is not,” said Strickland.
The accuser claims the L.A. Lakers star sexually assaulted her on June 30, while he was a guest at a Colorado resort where she worked as a concierge. Bryant, 25, maintains that the sex was consensual. He is due in a Colorado courtroom Thursday for a hearing in the case.
Strickland confirmed in the interview that his friend twice attempted suicide, saying, “I think we have all moved on from that. And that was a dark time. And we had to go through that. And now we’re through with it.”
Does the accuser want Bryant to land in jail? “My friend wants to see justice done. Whatever his sentence is. Anything. She just wants to see justice carried out,” Strickland said, adding that she wouldn’t mind seeing Bryant behind bars.
“I think she would love it … because of how scared she is of him,” said Strickland. “She is terrified of him.”
There has been no comment from the Bryant camp since the interview aired, but this week’s Newsweek magazine reports that the Lakers star considered divorcing his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, 21, earlier this year, shortly after the birth of the couple’s first child, Natalia. Kobe’s move reportedly caused Vanessa to be hospitalized on advanced life support for a nervous breakdown.