Gayle King under fire for questioning Kobe Bryant rape charges

Gayle King and Kobe Bryant. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Gayle King and Kobe Bryant. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

Cape Town - She’s usually the celebrated journalist who goes in with the tough questions – remember the no-nonsense interview she conducted with disgraced musician R Kelly?

But this time Gayle King might have gone too far.

The CBS This Morning co-host came under fire for questioning the legacy of Kobe Bryant in an interview with WNBA player Lisa Leslie.

The two discussed Kobe’s recent death in a helicopter crash – which also claimed the life of his daughter Gianna and seven others.

But the conversation took a turn when Gayle addressed the allegations of rape against Kobe in the early 2000s, E! News writes.

"It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?" Gayle asked.

Lisa responded: "It’s not complicated for me at all."

In 2003 Kobe was arrested on sexual assault charges filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee.

The case was dropped the following year after the accuser refused to testify. She later filed a civil lawsuit but the matter was settled out of court in 2005, USA Today reports.

During the interview with Gayle, Lisa said that while other male basketball players used her as a way to find women, Kobe was "not the kind of guy" who’d do that.

"I’ve never seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way," Lisa continued. "That’s just not the person that I know."

Gayle replied that Lisa could’ve been blinded by their friendship.

"But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it, though," the 65-year-old argued. "As his friend you wouldn’t see it."

Lisa admitted "that’s possible" but maintained using force on a woman was not in Kobe’s character.

"I just don’t believe that," she said. "And I’m not saying things didn’t happen. I just don’t believe that things didn’t happen with force."

In a statement to USA Today, Gayle responded to the flak she received after the interview aired.

"I understand why people are upset seeing that clip out of context," she said.

"I hope they’ll now watch the entire wide-ranging interview. We asked a longtime friend of Kobe Bryant’s to talk to us about his legacy and their friendship and Lisa Leslie did exactly that."

(Sources: USA Today, E! News)