Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

76 Fordham Law Review 1585 (2007)


Rape cases reveal core conflicts in the space where evidence, law, and ethics intersect. Such conflicts include the tension between victim protection and the rights of the accused, the challenges attorneys face trying to negotiate the demands of sensitive and emotionally difficult cases, and the role of the law in counteracting stereotypes and bias.

In this essay, I will begin by presenting the cultural milieu surrounding rape allegations, briefly reviewing attitudes towards perpetrators and victims. Next, I will attempt to capture the legal zeitgeist concerning rape, focusing on two recent phenomena: the reversal of false rape convictions based on DNA evidence and the advent of big-media rape trials involving various celebrities. After establishing this groundwork, I will turn to three separate issues of ethics and evidence that arise regularly in rape trials: (1) naming the victim, (2) shielding the victim's sexual history, and (3) civil settlements of rape charges. I will use the fairly recent case of Kobe Bryant, a famous basketball player accused of rape, to illustrate the evidence and ethical issues in all three of these discrete categories.