Kobe Bryant won’t be able to attend a film festival because of his 2003 rape allegation.
Bryant was removed as a jury for the Animation Is Film Festival after people protested his attendance on Change.org. The petition titled “Remove Sexual Predator Kobe Bryant from ‘Animation Is Film’ Festival Jury” was posted because of his rape allegation from 2003. The film festival will take place in Los Angeles this weekend.
“After discussions with the various stakeholders of Animation Is Film, the decision has been made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury,” said Eric Beckman, CEO of GKIDS, which produces the event. “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.” Bryant would have respectively served, as he won an Oscar in 2016 for his animation “Dear Basketball.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
An excerpt from the petition reads: “We, women and allies of the animation community demand that accused rapist and sexual predator Kobe Bryant be removed from the Jury of Animation is Film Festival. In light of the #MeToo movement, there has been little to no recourse for Kobe Bryant’s actions of sexual assault. We demand that GKIDS, Variety, & Annecy revoke their complicity in enabling a sexual predator to continue a life without any accountability both as an individual and a celebrity. On its website ‘Animation Is Film’ specifically states one of their primary purposes is to champion and support women filmmakers. It’s time to turn these words into action. It continued, “This is an urgent time to say NO to toxic and violent behavior against women. For this reason, we ask that GKIDS, Variety & Annecy take a stand in support of women. Keeping Kobe Bryant on the jury sets a precedent of leniency for sexual criminals and further undermines the visibility and respect that victims of harassment and assault deserve.”
Bryant responded in a statement saying, “This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry,” he said. “I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”
Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault in 2003, but the case was dropped after the alleged victim refused to testify. Bryant publicly apologized to the woman.