Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Kobe Bryant: 2003 Rape Allegation Leads Film Festival to Drop Him as Judge

*Former LA Lakers/NBA superstar player Kobe Bryant just got a taste of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements when on Wednesday, he was booted from being a judge at the “Animation Is Film Festival.”

The action to remove Bryant came because of an online petition that demanded that he be removed due to a 2003 rape allegation.

The Change.org petition posted last week urged festival officials to remove Bryant from the jury, according to Variety, a festival sponsor. The petition claimed that keeping him on would set a “precedent” of leniency for sexual criminals and “undermine the visibility and respect” that victims deserve.

Dang, that’s pretty rough language when you consider he was never convicted. In any event, according to Eric Beckman, the CEO of GKIDS, the company that organized the “Animation Is Film Festival,” Bryant would be removed from the jury after discussions were held with festival stakeholders.

“We are a young organization and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers, and our festival attendees,” Beckman said in a statement.

Bryant, 40, was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in Colorado in 2003. A year after the accusation, prosecutors dropped the charges because the woman did not want to go ahead with a trial. Bryant said the sex was consensual.

kobe bryant - oscar

It was just earlier this year in March that Bryant won an Academy Award in for his part in making the animated short, “Dear Basketball,” and faced similar scrutiny during the night’s ceremony, which centered on a “Time’s Up” anti-harassment theme.

“This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry.”

The former basketballer and founder of animation company Granity Studios, released a statement saying he was honored to be invited and remains “focused on changing the world in positive ways.”

“I was honored to have been originally invited by Animation is Film to serve on the 2018 Jury, and am disappointed to no longer serve in that capacity,” Bryant’s statement said. “This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry.”

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