Sexual assault reports have plummeted at a university once attended by the woman who accused Kobe Bryant (search) of rape, prompting speculation that the high-profile case has made victims fearful of coming forward.
Attorneys for the basketball star have attacked the woman's credibility by questioning her sexual history and bringing out evidence indicating she had sex with another man shortly before the alleged attack.
"If I were a victim of sexual assault, and I heard and saw things going on in the media with Kobe Bryant, it would certainly make me think twice about reporting it," University of Northern Colorado's Police Chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt said this week.
Deana Davies, interim coordinator of the university's Assault Survivors Advocacy Program (search), said the Bryant case can confirm victims' fears that they may not have community support or that their reputations will suffer if they report an attack.
The woman who accused Bryant of rape attended the University of Northern Colorado earlier this year but did not return for the fall term.
In addition to the graphic details revealed during Bryant's preliminary hearing, two men have been charged with threatening to kill the woman.
An Eagle County judge hopes to decide by Monday whether Bryant should stand trial. Bryant, 25, is accused of raping the woman June 30 at a resort where she worked. The Los Angeles Lakers guard has said the sex was consensual and remains free on a $25,000 bond.
At the University of Northern Colorado, 12 women reported being sexually assaulted through mid-October last year, according to the assault survivors program. In 2001, the same number of women reported being assaulted during the same time period.
This year, only three anonymous reports had been made in the same time period by women who said they were attacked but did not want to offer details or seek help.
"I'd hope it would be that it's not happening as much but I don't think that's the case," said Jordan Reck, 20, a volunteer with the university's assault survivors program.