Kobe Bryant was removed from the jury of the Animation Is Film Festival after a violent reaction stemming from a rape complaint in 2003. Although the former star of L.A. Lakers was destined to serve as a juror at this weekend's annual event in Hollywood, organizers announced on Wednesday that they will no longer participate.
"After the discussions with the various actors of Animation Is Film, the decision was made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury," Eric Beckman, festival founder and CEO of GKIDS, said in a statement. "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."
Last week, a petition was created on Change.org for Bryant, who won an Oscar for his 2017 short Dear basketball – be removed from the list of juries due to an accusation of sexual assault made against him in the past.
"This is an urgent moment to say NO to toxic and violent behavior against women," reads the petition, which only obtained 159 signatures. "Keeping Kobe Bryant on the jury establishes a precedent of leniency for sex offenders and further undermines the visibility and respect that victims of harassment and assault deserve."
Bryant responded to his dismissal from the Animation Is Film jury in a statement, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
"I was 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," Bryant said. "This decision motivates me even more and I am committed to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry, I remain focused on changing the world in a positive way through different stories, characters and leadership, to inspire the next generation. "
Bryant was arrested in July 2003 after a 19-year-old hotel employee claimed she was raped by the then 24-year-old. The woman refused to testify and the case was abandoned later. Bryant, now 40, said he had the impression that their interaction was consensual and publicly apologized in a statement at the time.
"Although I really believe that this meeting between us was consensual, now I recognize that she did not see it and does not see this incident in the same way that I did," Bryant said in part. "After months of reviewing the discovery, listening to her lawyer and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels she did not accept this meeting."
Bryant, who retired from the NBA in 2016, and the hotel employee finally resolved the case for "satisfaction of both parties" in March 2005.
This article originally appeared on THR.com.