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            I have been a Lakers fan since I started watching basketball back in 1987 at .
             the age of 5 years and I think Kobe Bryant is the most talented basketball .
             player in the NBA. I grew up less than 5 miles from Great Western Forum and .
             my father swears that he bleeds purple and gold. Nevertheless, my loyalty .
             to the team and to my favorite player does not compel me discredit the .
             victim in this case and proclaim Kobe's innocence. .
             While it is true that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, that only .
             means that the burden of proof falls on the prosecution to convict Kobe .
             Bryant. The jury must return a verdict of not guilty if the prosecution .
             fails to adequately demonstrate the guilt of the defendant. It does not .
             mean that we must assume that Kobe is innocent, and therefore the victim is .
             dishonest. In fact, the principle does not even apply to the general .
             public, but instead is restricted to the realm of the courtroom, and to the .
             deliberation of the jury in particular. Furthermore, the opinions of those .
             not directly involved in the case have no influence on the verdict, and are .
             therefore irrelevant except in one aspect. .
             The fact that there are so many outspoken proponents for the innocence of .
             Kobe Bryant makes it harder for rape victims to come forward and report .
             their crimes. Sexual assault is already one of the most underreported .
             crimes in the country because of its low conviction rate as well as the .
             shame associated with being dominated and violated by another human being. .
             The assumption of innocence at the societal level only serves to discourage .
             rape victims from reporting because they feel that nobody will believe them. .
             Why do so many people believe Kobe is innocent anyway? People claim to know .
             that Kobe would not commit such a heinous crime and cite his record as an .
             outstanding citizen and excellent sportsman. What do we really know about .
             Kobe Bryant's personal life? There was little available information before .

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