Supporters of the #MeToo movement call out 'irony' of the basketball star's Academy Award 15 years after his sexual assault case
Sports icon Kobe Bryant might be celebrating his first Academy Award victory, but some supporters of the #MeToo movement aren’t.
After the basketball player claimed an Oscar Sunday night for Dear Basketball, the animated short film about his retirement from the NBA which he produced and wrote, social media users were quick to point to the 39-year-old’s controversial past—namely an alleged sexual assault case from summer 2003.
When he was 24 years old, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old employee of an Edwards, Colorado hotel in which he was staying. Bryant was later arrested on felony charges, though the case was dropped after his accuser was unwilling to testify.
“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,” said Bryant through his attorney after the charges were dropped “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.”
The young woman subsequently filed a civil suit against Bryant, which was settled out of court two years after her initial accusation.
“Guess Oscar voters forgot about the rape allegations against Kobe Bryant,” a Twitter user wrote shortly after Bryant’s triumph, which lands as Hollywood reels from a string of sexual misconduct and abuse incidents allegedly perpetrated by the likes of Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, and more.
“Kobe Bryant wins an Oscar at the #metoo #timesup Oscars because hahahahahhahahaha women,” another added.
Select Twitter users took issue with the Academy awarding Bryant one of its golden statuettes on the same stage that hosted the likes of Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Salma Hayek introducing a video clip that touched on gender equality, racial diversity and the #MeToo movement in the film industry. But Bryan also found celebrity supporters among LeBron James, Bette Midler, Magic Johnson, and Hailey Baldwin.
“Congratulations to my good friend [Kobe Bryant] for winning the Oscar for best animated short film. “Well deserved!” Johnson tweeted. “Salute [Kobe Bryant] on that Oscar!!” tweeted James shortly thereafter.
Check out the polarized reactions to Bryant’s victory below.