Jordan Strauss / Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP
Academy Award winner, Kobe Bryant, was removed as a member of the jury from the Animation Is Film festival in Los Angeles this weekend after a violent reaction stemming from past sexual assault charges against him.
The old NBA phenomenon won an Oscar earlier this year for its animated short film Dear basketballBut under pressure from a group calling themselves Women and Allies, festival organizers announced Wednesday that Bryant would no longer participate in the second annual event.
"After the discussions with the different actors of Animation Is Film, the decision was made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury," Becky, Eric Beckman, festival founder and CEO of GKIDS, told E-mail 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," he added.
A petition launched a week ago on Change.org on behalf of "women and allies in the animation community" demanded "that the defendant be removed from the rapist and sexual predator Kobe Bryant."
"In light of the #MeToo movement, there has been little or no recourse for Kobe Bryant's sexual assault actions," he continued. By including Bryant, the petition alleged that the organizers of the festival would be accomplices "to allow a sexual predator to continue a life without any responsibility, both as an individual and as a celebrity … This is an urgent moment to say NO to toxic behavior and violent against women. "
The protesters also claimed that the presence of the basketball star in the jury "sets a precedent for leniency for sex offenders and further undermines the visibility and respect that victims of harassment and assault deserve."
Bryant was accused of raping a hotel worker in Colorado in 19 years in 2003. However, the criminal case against him ended abruptly in 2004, after the woman decided not to participate in the trial. That forced the local district attorney to drop the charges.
But before the case was dismissed, the defense team of the then star Lakers launched an aggressive campaign to discredit the victim, including allegations that he had engaged in sexual activities with another partner immediately after having relations with Bryant. .
A civil lawsuit was finally settled out of court in 2005 without Bryant admitting his guilt.
At the moment Bryant issued a statement through his lawyers in which he said: "Although I really believe that this meeting between us was consensual, now I recognize that she did not see this incident in the same way that I … After "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."
On Wednesday, Bryant responded to the GKIDS decision in a statement to The Washington Post, saying: "This decision motivates me even more and I am committed to building a study that focuses on diversity and inclusion in the narrative for the animation industry." I remain focused on changing the world in a positive way through different stories. , characters and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation. "
Earlier this month, ESPN announced it would partner with Bryant's company, Granity Studios, to produce a second season of Detail.