A Washington Post reporter was suspended after tweeting an article detailing the 2003 rape allegation against former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant in the hours after his death Sunday, the Daily Mail reported.
Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and several others were killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Hours after the deaths were reported, Post national politics reporter Felicia Sonmez tweeted a 2016 article from the Daily Beast titled, "Kobe Bryant's disturbing rape case: The DNA evidence, the accuser's story, and the half-confession."
That tweet angered many who were mourning Bryant's death, and Sonmez wrote several follow-up tweets about the backlash she was getting.
"Well, THAT was eye-opening," Sonmez 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 & 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."
Sonmez then posted a screenshot showing some vulgar emails she received.
"As an addendum: Hard to see what's accomplished by messages such as these," Sonmez wrote. "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."
Sonmez has since deleted all the aforementioned tweets, and has been placed on administrative leave by the Post.
"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," managing editor Tracy Grant told the Daily Mail. "The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues."
Matthew Keys of The Desk cited an anonymous Washington Post employee who said the suspension wasn't because Sonmez tweeted the Daily Beast article, but that it was because the Post was concerned about the potential legal ramifications of Sonmez showing full names of emailers in her screenshot.
Bryant was accused in 2003 of raping a 19-year-old woman in a Colorado hotel. The criminal charges against Bryant were dropped, and Bryant settled a civil lawsuit with the accuser.