Kobe Bryant could not participate in the jury of an animated film festival in Los Angeles after an online revolt demanded the removal of the NBA legend for a 2003 rape.
A Change.org petition published last week urged festival officials to remove Bryant from the jury, according to Variety, a festival sponsor. The petition stated that maintaining it would establish a "precedent" of clemency for sex offenders and "undermine the visibility and respect" that victims deserve.
Eric Beckman, the CEO of GKIDS, the company that organized the Anima Animation Film Festival, announced that Bryant would be removed from the jury after having conversations with the festival's stakeholders.
"We are a young organization and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers and our festival goers," Beckman said in a statement.
Bryant, 40, was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in Colorado in 2003. A year after the indictment, prosecutors dropped the charges because the woman did not want to go ahead with the trial. Bryant said that sex was consensual.
Bryant won an Academy Award in March for his part in the making of the animated short "Dear Basketball," and faced similar scrutiny during the evening's ceremony, which focused on the "anti-bullying" theme.
"This decision motivates me even more and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry."
The former star of the Lakers, who founded the entertainment company Granity Studios, issued a statement saying he was honored to be invited and remains "focused on changing the world in a positive way."
"I felt honored to have been originally invited by Animation is Film to be part of the 2018 jury, and I am disappointed that I did not serve in that capacity," said Bryant's statement. "This decision motivates me even more and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.