Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault allegations from 2003 are coming back to haunt him in an era where the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement is prevalent. He was recently removed from the jury at the Animation is Film Festival after a petition called for his removal.
The petition was started by Woman and Allies on Change.org and read:
“We, women and allies of the animation community demand that accused rapist and sexual predator Kobe Bryant be removed from the Jury of Animation is Film Festival. In light of the #MeToo movement, there has been little to no recourse for Kobe Bryant’s actions of sexual assault.”
They demanded that GKIDS, which produces the event, remove him from the jury citing that one of the fest’s “primary purposes is to champion and support women filmmakers.”
“It’s time to turn this words into action,” they added.
Eric Beckman, CEO of GKIDS responded to the demands and said in a statement: “After discussions with the various stakeholders of Animation Is Film, the decision has been made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury.” He added, “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.”
According to the petition, Bryant’s name was removed from the website on Friday, but the official announcement of his removal was not released until Wednesday.
Bryant responded to the news saying, “This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry. I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”
This isn’t the first time Bryant’s past allegations of sexual assault came back to haunt him. Another petition was launched earlier this year when he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The petition called for him to rescind the nomination, but he ended up winning the Oscar.
In 2003, Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault. When his accuser refused to testify, the case was dropped and he issued a public apology to the woman.