Vanessa Bryant backed by parents of car crash victim whose photos were leaked online

The couple says they ‘hope Vanessa fights and wins’ the lawsuit

<p>Late NBA player Kobe Bryant with Vanessa Laine Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, and Natalia Diamante Bryant </p>

Late NBA player Kobe Bryant with Vanessa Laine Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, and Natalia Diamante Bryant

Christos and Lesli Catsouras, the couple whose daughter died in a horrific car crash in 2006 and the pictures of her mutilated body went viral on social media, have said they were devastated and anguished to learn about Vanessa Bryant.

"I just feel desperately sorry for the Bryants," Mr Catsouras told People in an interview, adding that her story is similar to theirs.

The Catsourases fought a six-year-long legal battle against the California Highway Patrol (CHP) after the grisly pictures of their daughter’s mutilated body were leaked online.

Their daughter, Nikki Catsouras, died at the age of 18 on 31 October 2006 in a violent, high-speed car crash along State Route 241, near Lake Forest, California. Nikki was driving her father’s Porsche 911 Carrera when she lost control and collided with a toll booth and died on the spot.

The family reached a settlement in 2012 after a long legal battle and went through psychiatric evaluations to prove their mental distress, in what was very similar to Ms Bryant who was also asked to show her therapy records and undergo psychiatric evaluation of the emotional distress.

But the family says they were never able to get the graphic photos of her daughter removed from the internet even after hiring lawyers and "trying everything”.

Nikki Catsouras died in a car crash in 2006

They are now being harassed by internet trolls, who send them emails with Nikki’s pictures.

"We both deal with a lot of anger and sadness and grief," Ms Catsouras told news website. "These trolls were sending the photographs to us, disguising them as anything they could think of. We didn’t know how we could get help. Nobody could help us. Nobody wanted to help us."

Mr and Ms Catsouras were “shocked” to know their sufferings are being repeated with Ms Bryant and were disheartened to know things haven’t improved after their case.

Mr Catsouras said they “had hoped that our situation would’ve helped send a message to police, first responders and the general public,” but this is still happening.

“I feel like if [our case] had truly made an impact, then we wouldn’t be where we are,” he said

Ms Bryant had filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in September, seeking damages for negligence and invasion of privacy after the county sheriff’s deputies allegedly shared pictures from the crash site where her husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna Bryant died.

Her suit alleged that one sheriff snapped about 100 pictures on his phone from the crash site and showed them to a bartender in LA.

A judge ordered her to submit Ms Bryant’s mental health records to prove she was distressed as the Los Angeles county offices demanded that she be subjected to a psychiatric evaluation.

In November, lawyers for Los Angeles County attempted to get her case dismissed, arguing it was "without legal merit." But her lawyers, on 6 December, hit back saying NBA star’s widow has been suffering "tremendous pain and distress" since the images were leaked.

Ms Catsouras says she now just “hope Vanessa fights and wins.”

“I know that they’re going to do everything they can to knock her down and make her give up. And I hope she doesn’t. I hope she continues, and I hope she makes it to the end and makes it worthwhile,” she said.

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