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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interviews with Tom Leykis, Patricia Saunders

Aired July 23, 2003 - 20:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, listeners to 60 radio stations across the country heard the name of Kobe Bryant's alleged rape victim. Despite pleas from family members and authorities to respect her privacy. Nationally syndicated talk show host Tom Leykis is the man who put that on the air. He joins me tonight from Los Angeles. Thank you for joining us, sir.
TOM LEYKIS, RADIO HOST: Sure thing.

ZAHN: First of all, what is it that you hope to accomplish by not only naming the accuser's name but by on a related Web site releasing her home address and her e-mail address.

LEYKIS: Well, let me -- stop right there. I did not reveal anybody's home address or phone number. The Web site you're talking about, I don't know who owns it. It has nothing to do with our show. The only thing we gave out was the name of Kobe Bryant's accuser. That's it. I would not invade someone's privacy that way.

ZAHN: There are people who say there is a link from your web site to this other site. That is not true?

LEYKIS: Not that I know of.

ZAHN: OK.

So what is the purpose, though, of releasing her name?

LEYKIS: The purpose of releasing the name of the alleged victim is to make sure that there is a fair trial in this case. By revealing the name of the accused and not the accuser, by protecting the identity of the accuser, you already put the idea in people's minds that there is a victim when this reality there may not be a victim. If this is a false allegation, the victim in this case will be Kobe Bryant.

ZAHN: Let me ask you this. You no doubt have heard victim's rights groups responding to your announcing her name saying that it is, you know, whether it was raped or not, of course, no one knows at this stage but it's like being raped again. It's an intrusion, sadistic.

LEYKIS: I don't think there's anything sadistic about it. Feminists have told us for years that rape is a crime of violence, not a crime of sex, and I happen to agree with that. We report the names of victims of all kinds of violent crimes, murders, armed robberies, the names of people who have been carjacked, for example. The fact is we should not make an exception for allegations of rape. I believe you have a right to know your accuser, and everybody has a right to know who the accuser is.

ZAHN: Let me ask you this. A recent study showed that only 3 percent of the women who are raped or report an attempted rape even bother to report it from authorities.

Do you acknowledge that women hearing about this woman's name being publicly announced, that this would somehow have a chilling effect on other women who are afraid to go forward and report their rapes?

LEYKIS: Well, first of all, I don't know how a statistic like that can even be known, the number of people who fail to report something. But by the same token, I have talked to detectives who investigate sex crimes and who have a vested interest in collaring criminals. And I've been told by more than one that as many as half or more of the allegations of sexual assault turn out to be false allegations for a variety of reasons.

The victim or the supposed victim in reality was embarrassed to be caught having sex with a particular person or it's an ex-boyfriend and they got into a skirmish or somebody who never called back after a one-night stand, all kinds of reasons for that. The fact is that with the system as it is right now, where only the major news media are allowed to have the name and decide like mommy and daddy whether we're mature enough to know the name has produce that had 3 percent figure you quoted.

ZAHN: Tom, thanks so much for joining us.

There are those who feel that such a disclosure is a violation of the victim's right to privacy. Patricia Saunders is the director of the Graham Winden Manhattan Medical Center.

You heard Mr. Leykis talk about if the accused name is released publicly, why not the accuser,

PATRICIA SAUNDERS, DIR. GRAHAM WINDHAM MANHATTAN MENTAL HEALTH CENTER: I don't disagree there are inequities in the system as it is now. I think we're seeing a historical swing in the law from an earlier system where it was hell on earth for a victim. They had to bring in corroborating evidence to maybe an inequity now. But my concern is with any and all victims of trauma and of rape. This is a violation of privacy and in that way, it's very much psychologically like a rape. Regardless of whether or not this young woman is lying or telling the truth, there are thousands of women and men who are rape victims out there who tonight are really scared and I'll bet, Paula, will not report to the police because of this mans (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in taking it upon himself in doing this.

ZAHN: Because you feel they fear at some point perhaps their name will be publicly announced by someone else and they will be subjected to some sort of public humiliation? SAUNDERS: Yes, indeed, and the fact is that this young lady is getting death threats now. The family has had to hire security outside of their home because her name was publicized. There much better ways to work for more equality for the accused and the accuser in the judicial system and not this vigilante like act.

ZAHN: Dr. Saunders, we are going to leave there this evening.

Thank you very much.

SAUNDERS: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Appreciate your joining us.

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