While fans are celebrating Kobe Bryant’s very first Academy Award win after the sports icon took home the prize for Best Animated Short Film for his Dear Basketball, they’re met in equal numbers by critics the Academy’s choice to award a star once plagued with sexual assault allegations in the midst the era #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement.
It was back in 2003 that a then-24-year-old Kobe Bryant was accused sexual assault by a 19-year old hotel employee. Bryant would be arrested and brought up on felony charges attached to the case that was later dropped after his accuser refused to testify in court.
Soon after, he would release a statement in which he apologized for any harm he may have unknowingly brought upon the young girl. “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 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.” The case was eventually settled in a civil suit.
Years later, that statement haunts Bryant as a perceived admittance culpability and has made what some are calling another indication toward the five-time NBA champion’s GOAT status instead another criticism Hollywood’s failed attempts at full-on solidarity with the fight against ongoing sexual assault and harassment in the realm entertainment.
Check out the spectrum reactions to Bryant’s win.