*Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram on Saturday to respond to a tweet from actress Evan Rachel Wood, who called Kobe Bryant a ‘rapist’ following news that the NBA star and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash.
Vanessa shared a screenshot of the old tweet, which Wood sent out amid reports of Kobe’s death in January 2020. In her post, she called Bryant a “sports hero,” and also described him as a “rapist” — referring to his 2003 sexual assault case that was dismissed.
“What has happened was tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family,” Wood wrote in the Jan. 26, 2020 tweet. “He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”
She was immediately criticized for the message, prompting Wood to post another tweet without mentioning the rape case.
“What has happened is tragic. Beloveds, this was not a condemnation or a celebration,” her follow-up tweet read. “It was a reminder that everyone will have different feelings and there is room for us all to grieve together instead of fighting. Everyone has lost. Everyone will be triggered, so please show kindness and respect to all.”
Vanessa only recently became aware of Wood’s “rapist” tweet, so she responded to her on social media.
“Your false, insensitive, defamatory and slanderous tweet on 1/26/20 is vile and disturbing to say the least,” she wrote (see screenshot above). “Behavior like this is part of the reason why innocent black men go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit. An accusation doesn’t make someone guilty. You don’t know the facts of the case.”
Producer Abigail Disney made similar comments about Bryant days after his death.
“I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in. But yes, it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out. The man was a rapist. Deal with it,” she wrote.
Vanessa responded to Disney’s tweet with a similar message to the one she sent Wood (see screenshot below).
Kobe was 24 when he had what he described as a “consensual” sexual encounter with a 19-year-old woman who claimed he raped her in a Colorado hotel room in July 2003.
The criminal case was dismissed in 2004 after the accuser refused to testify. In August 2004, she filed a civil suit against Kobe, which was settled out of court in 2005.
“… I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman,” Kobe Bryant said in a statement on the day the case was dismissed. “She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”