- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

A creeping shadow of a doubt is starting to envelop the 19-year-old woman in the Kobe Bryant affair.

There are reports the woman attempted to commit suicide at the University of Northern Colorado last winter and then again in May following the death of a friend and the breakup with a boyfriend.

The police chief at the university says the woman also was taken to a medical facility last February after it was determined she was a danger to herself.

All this indicates a pattern of instability that could undermine the credibility of the woman and the sexual-assault charge against Bryant.

The latter is not the opinion of a legal expert, just a bow to common sense.

There already are enough legal experts lurking on the airwaves and Internet and on the pages of newspapers, and they have taken to debating whether the woman’s mental well-being in recent months is relevant to the Bryant case.

This is a debate that only legal experts can understand and appreciate.

Legal experts are a special sort.

They can embrace the oddest causes and hold the craziest arguments.

There are those trial lawyers who are going after the major ice-cream chains now.

They are urging Haagen-Dazs and the like to spell out ice cream’s artery-closing dangers on its store menus and to provide consumers with healthier alternatives.

This is another one of those head-scratching pursuits that eludes the brain power of ordinary souls who hang out in ice-cream parlors.

This is not unlike the lawyerly inspired warning that comes on lawn mowers nowadays, which suggests it would be unwise of a person to stick a head or a body part next to the blades while the machine is in operation.

Before this important warning was put on lawn mowers, people apparently used the contraptions for purposes other than cutting the grass, such as cutting their hair.

You know the deal. Crank up the mower. Stick your head underneath the rotating blades. Bingo. Instant flattop.

Lawyers sometimes think so hard that they miss the obvious.

In a she-said, he-said case, the equilibrium of the respective parties is no small detail, as Bryant’s attorneys are destined to argue.

Whether the woman’s recent troubles are admissible in court or not — and they should be — Bryant undoubtedly would have preferred to have had that information at his disposal before he invited the woman to his hotel room on the night of June 30. If Bryant had known of the woman’s issues, he probably would not have extended an invitation to her.

Most Americans try to avoid the seemingly unstable.

Just the other evening, on a downtown street corner, a man became increasingly disturbed by the failure of the do-not-walk sign to express a different point of view. He eventually resorted to shouting at the sign, which led to a dispersing of the crowd.

By the time the sign abandoned its do-not-walk position, the one-man filibuster had the crossing all to himself.

Americans tend to let the unstable be who they are because you just never know.

You enter the world of the unstable, and the next thing you know, your world is liable to be all messed up.

Bryant, whose life once appeared to be perfect, has now taken up residence in the grayer world of uncertainty.

All kinds of embarrassing details involving the Bryant household are starting to emerge, not the least of which is the news of the in-laws using Bryant as if they hit the lottery.

Court documents from the pending divorce case of the in-laws reveal Bryant gave them more than $500,000 in cash and gifts. He also paid off the $230,000 mortgage on their home, plus met two car loans, credit-card expenses and phone and dental bills.

Bryant was, in effect, the walking piggy bank of his wife’s parents, which merely bolsters his parents’ misgivings with the marriage.

This icky family dynamic has been put into national play because of a woman who reportedly has been living on the edge in recent months.

In her case, that comes out to a reported two suicide attempts and one authority-led trip to a medical facility.

These details have come mostly from friends of the woman, as opposed to sources close to the investigation looking to build Bryant’s case.

That is a lot of drama in one person’s life, and not distant enough to think it was resolved before June 30.

Bryant is either the unluckiest adulterer or the luckiest sexual-assault perpetrator in America.

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