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Equal Before Proven Guilty?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, July, 28 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Most news stations have a policy against naming sexual assault victims, so why did Los Angeles nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Tom Leykis feel compelled to identify Kobe Bryant's (search) accuser? He joins us from Los Angeles. His home station is KLSX. Have I got that right?

Hey, Tom. How are you?

TOM LEYKIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes. How are you?

HANNITY: We've known each other for a long time and this did not surprise me that you did this but you did it for very specific reasons. Tell us why.

LEYKIS: I did it because I don't believe you can have a fair trial when you know the name of the accused and not the accuser.

HANNITY: Yes.

LEYKIS: Protecting the identity of an accuser automatically makes people assume that that person has a reason to have their identity protected. In other words, you're assuming guilt to begin with by protecting that identity. Which makes it possible for all kinds of false allegations to be made as you're conveniently hiding behind a fence.

HANNITY: Do you think…if we decide to give out, obviously in this case, the name and identity of the accused, we should do the accuser? Do you think a better policy would be to withhold that information till later? Or everybody has got to understand, you're in the media, it's going to be fair game?

LEYKIS: Well, you know, I hate to point to Great Britain (search), but they do it right. You don't get the name of the accused or accuser until the trial is over.

You know, people talk about the stigma of being raped. And I completely understand and empathize with people who have been assaulted. And I'm a very strong advocate for severe, the severest punishment for people who rape. And if Kobe Bryant is guilty I hope he's imprisoned for the rest of his life. I have to make that clear.

But by the same token what about the stigma of being accused of being a rapist?

HANNITY: If you're innocent. Ultimately, if it turned out that way.

LEYKIS: If you say the name William Kennedy Smith (search), most people will say, "Oh, yes, that rapist." Now whether you believe he did it or not, the guy was acquitted.

HANNITY: What is the reaction? You have a huge radio audience. I assume it's probably mixed. Are you getting very strong feelings against you?

LEYKIS: Well, we're getting two different sets of feelings. The people who call the radio show know that this is the fourth time we've done this. We give out the name of Marv Albert's (search) accuser first.

We gave out the name of the so-called victim in the Mary Kay Letourneau case.

HANNITY: Right.

LEYKIS: And we also give out the name of the woman who attempted to get suicide by judge from the ship canal bridge during the morning rush-hour in Seattle, and the Seattle papers would not give her out name.

So our listeners know we've done that.

When it comes to email, though, it's a different story. It's running about 60-40 against and the reason for that is many of the people writing in have never heard the show. They've only read about me in the paper or seen me on television, but they never heard the radio show.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I'm sure it's good for ratings. It's Alan. Good to have you on Hannity & Colmes.

Look, I disagree with what you're doing. I think that, you know, you've heard the argument and I'd like to hear you respond to it, the idea that women will be less likely to come forward if they know the minute…if they have been raped and want to make a public accusation, they're going to be dragged through the mud. Now they know if it's somebody famous, that famous person already has an advantage, or a number of them, and now the woman is going to have to play catch-up. And not when it's their fault.

LEYKIS: Well, first of all, let's not kid ourselves. Everybody in Eagle, Colorado knows who this person is, everybody, without exception, every single person. There's 3,100 people in the town.

And by the way, you're worried about whether women will come forward. How many women will stop coming forward with false claims if they know that this is...

COLMES: If this is a false claim...

LEYKIS: ... on both side.

COLMES: Tom, if this turns out to be a false claim her name will be revealed at that point, probably more widely disseminated, and she'll have to pay the consequences.

But the net effect of naming any woman who makes a rape accusation…by and large, it's usually true, by the way…they're not going to come forward.

LEYKIS: Well, I happen to agree with the people who said this is a paternalistic policy. The idea is that if you're going to make an accusation like this…the fact is feminists for years have said rape is not a crime of sex, it's a crime of violence. You know what? I agree with the feminists.

Therefore, if we report the names of murder victims, people who've been involved in armed robberies, car jackings. We watch on television, we see security footage of 7-Elevens being knocked over, people being shot dead. You see the accuser and the accused. You see the victim and the perpetrator.

Why would we make an exception for this one violent crime?

HANNITY: All right, Tom. We're going to be listening as this case goes forward. Not wanting to shy away from controversy.

By the way, I had the distinction years ago of calling your show and you blowing me off the air with…I don't know if you remember but it was a long time ago.

LEYKIS: I would do it again, Sean.

HANNITY: Tom Leykis, thanks for being with us. Appreciate you being on board.

LEYKIS: Thank you both.

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