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Rape Charge Can Be 'Life-Changing Event' For Both Accuser And Accused

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Friends of the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape said Wednesday that she bragged about her encounter with the Los Angeles Lakers star.

Since Bryant's arrest, personal information about the 19 year-old woman is being posted all over the Internet. It's an example of how high-profile rape cases can affect both the accuser and the accused.

Bryant's arrest stunned his fans and sullied the NBA star's squeaky clean image. But the harsh glare of the spotlight is also focused on Bryant's accuser. Web sites list her name, address, phone number -- even the tax value of her parents' house.

Regan King understands how that feels.

"It was tough; I felt like I was labeled," King said, "like I was walking around with a big sign on my forehead or my shirt that said: 'She's the one who was raped.'"

King was attacked by serial rapist Adrian Cathey in 1998, when she was a student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She said she's appalled -- but not surprised -- that the identity of Bryant's accuser was made public.

"This is something that could ruin her life forever," King said. "She's never going to live it down. She's always going to be known for this case. Always."

Local defense attorney Roger Smith said "the charge itself is a life-changing event, no matter how the case comes out."

Smith represented Percy Moorman, the North Carolina State University football player who was charged with rape in 1985. Moorman's conviction was reversed and the case eventually dropped, but his football career was ruined.

Smith sees parallels between Moorman's case and Bryant's case.

"When people see that person," Smith said, "that's the first thought that comes to mind: 'This man is accused of doing such and such.'"

Victim advocates worry that the Bryant case will discourage victims from reporting rape. King said she disagrees.

"I think it should encourage them," she said, "because it is such a high-profile case, yet they are taking it. The DA has decided to move forward with it, and yet, in most cases of acquaintance rape, they don't take it."

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