'Washington Post' Reporter Suspended After Tweeting a Link to Kobe Bryant Rape Case Article, Intense Backlash

A Washington Post journalist has been suspended after tweeting a link to an article about the Kobe Bryant rape case just hours after news broke that the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, along with eight others, were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday. As fans of the basketball legend flocked to social media to react to the tragedy, reporter Felicia Sonmez took to Twitter to share a link to a 2016 Daily Beast article titled "Kobe Bryant's Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser's Story, and the Half-Confession."

The article referred to 2003 case in which a 19-year-old woman accused Bryant of sexual assault. The case was dismissed a week before it was set to go to trial because the alleged victim would not testify. The woman later filed a civil suit, which was settled out of court after Bryant issued an apology to the alleged victim.

Sonmez's tweet, which has since been deleted, generated backlash, with the Daily Mail reporting that Sonmez, in following tweets, alleged she had received death threats.

"Well, THAT was eye-opening," she wrote. "To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story - which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me. Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling."

"That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn't even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases," she continued.

Sonmez again later took to the social media platform, writing, "As an addendum: Hard to see what's accomplished by messages such as these."

"If your response to a news article is to resort to harassment and intimidation of journalists, you might want to consider that your behavior says more about you than the person you're targeting," she added.

All of the tweets have since been deleted, and managing editor of The Washington Post Tracy Grant confirmed to the Daily Mail that Sonmez has been placed on leave.

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"National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom's social media policy," Grant said. "The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues."

Bryant, 41, was killed Sunday when his Sikorsky S-76B helicopter went down in Calabasas, California. The basketball legend's 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were also aboard the flight. There were no survivors.