Despite the suit being settled 15 years ago, Kobe Bryant is still feeling the consequences of being accused of rape. The former Los Angeles Laker secured his first Oscar on Sunday, March 4 for his documentary, “Dear Basketball” as a petition that hoped his nomination would be removed continues to collect signatures.
“The Oscars almost avoided nominating sexual predators for awards. Woody Allen and James Franco didn’t get anything. But Kobe Bryant, who was charged with a horrific sexual assault, was nominated,” petition creator Kelsey Bourgeois wrote on the Care2 petition, which has nearly met its 17,000 signature goal. “An important conversation has been started about sexual assault and harassment, so why is Bryant being honored for best animated short if Time really is Up?”
Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel employee in 2003. The then-24-year-old NBA star, who was married to his wife, Vanessa, maintained the encounter was a consensual one. During a 2004 hearing, the 19-year-old accuser refused to testify and the parties ultimately settled out of court.
During the 90th annual Academy Awards, Bryant appeared surprised by his honor for Best Animated Short. He continuously glanced down at the statue in his hands.
“I don’t know if it’s possible. I mean, as basketball players, we are really supposed to shut up and dribble,” he said, referencing viral comments a Fox News host made about LeBron James and Kevin Durant. “But I am glad we do a little bit more than that.”
If it were up to Bourgeois, however, he wouldn’t have been able to snag the trophy in the first place.
“He settled with his accuser,” Bourgeois, an advocacy communications coordinator for Care2 and sexual assault survivor told Broadly Friday, March 2. “So in my mind, that doesn’t really make him innocent — it just makes him able to pay off someone who he wronged. I, of course, couldn’t possibly know what actually happened. But we have to believe women, especially when they accuse men who are typically ‘above the law,’ so to speak.”
Regardless, Bryant, who has not spoken publicly about the petition, got lots of congratulatory messages from fellow athletes upon winning the award.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) March 5, 2018
Congrats to KOBE first Oscar that’s big bro #dearbasketball. Proud of you, Big honor for you and your family. I’m jealous lol
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 5, 2018
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 5, 2018