During Sunday’s Oscars telecast, Kobe Bryant took home an Oscar statue for his animated short Dear Basketball. Immediately following his win, Twitter users began to point out that Bryant had been previously accused of rape, pointing out a win that was at odds with this awards seasons anti-sexual harassment narrative, encapsulated by hashtags #MeToo and #TimesUp.
Hollywood: TIME’S UP
Also Hollywood: Congratulations to Oscar winner Kobe Bryant!!!
— Caroline Framke (@carolineframke) March 5, 2018
Hollywood – “Women are important!”
Also Hollywood – “Here’s Kobe Bryant, who sexually assaulted a woman!”
— [email protected] (@ChrisWarcraft) March 5, 2018
Accused rapist Kobe Bryant just won an Oscar. Hollywood loves (alleged) rapists and pedophiles. #Oscars
— Makada 🇺🇸 (@_Makada_) March 5, 2018
In February, The Daily Beast shone a spotlight on Kobe Bryant’s frontrunner status in the Oscar race, as well as his past rape accusation. Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado spa in June 2003. However, the case never made it to trial. The accuser chose not to testify and Bryant wrote an apology that reads eerily close to a confession.
His apology reads, according to the Beast:
First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colo.I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. 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.I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.
Beast spoke to awards expert Gregory Ellwood, who pointed out that Bryant’s jersey was recently retired without any mention of the 2003 case.
“[Y]ou barely heard a peep about his sexual assault case,” Ellwood said. “Everyone will simply look the other way.”