In spite of all the tributes honoring Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant following his death, Walt Disney Company heiress and documentary filmmaker Abigail Disney suggested the allegation of rape against Bryant should not be forgotten in the accounts of his legacy.
Three days after Bryant died in a helicopter accident, Disney tweeted that she could no longer remain silent about the issue.
“I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in. But yes, it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out,” Disney tweeted Jan. 29. “The man was a rapist. Deal with it.”
I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in. But yes, it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out. The man was a rapist. Deal with it. https://t.co/9jfZHSqnnQ
— Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) January 29, 2020
Disney attached a link to a Washington Post Op-Ed by columnist David Von Drehle, who argued media outlets should not ignore the more controversial aspects Bryant’s life — no matter how uncomfortable they might be to consider.
Bryant had been arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment in 2003; however, the 19-year-old woman who accused him later declined to testify, the New York Post reported.
According to the Independent, DNA evidence provided by the accuser failed to prove Bryant’s guilt, and prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.
Bryant issued a formal apology to the woman through his lawyer, saying that though he thought their sexual encounter was consensual, he was sorry for any pain he had caused. A civil suit regarding the matter was settled in 2005.
Disney appeared to agree with Von Drehle’s sentiment that the allegation against Bryant should not be ignored, even in light of his tragic death.
Many on Twitter felt that Disney’s comments were unjust:
This is unfair and not ok. Feel how you will about him but his wife lost her husband, his daughters lost their father. If you must go down this road, educate yourself fully on that situation first, you just may feel a bit differently.
— Cindy Barr (@cindeelbarr) January 29, 2020
Each of us is more than our worst deeds, and less than our best. People aren’t easily divided into good and bad. I won’t excuse or defend what KB may have done that night, but if you aren’t moved by the hundreds of stories of his generosity and kindness, you aren’t paying attn.
— Sam Ackerman (@BeastStroganoff) January 29, 2020
Serious questions for you: Can people redeem themselves, reform, or are we forever to be judged by our past actions?
— OlympicDane (@mortenbc58) January 29, 2020
Others expressed support for Disney’s statement:
kobe fans want to delete a part of his history
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez farting cow (@OcasioCow) January 30, 2020
Thank you! I have been struggling with this. I cannot believe it’s being looked at like it never happened.
— Helena Burkett (@09SoccerGirl09) January 30, 2020
In his Op-Ed, Von Drehle defended his colleague Felicia Sonmez, who was temporarily suspended by The Post after tweeting a link to a Daily Beast article outlining the rape accusation against Bryant shortly after his death.
Sonmez was not the only reporter keen on reminding the public of Bryant’s alleged misconduct.
A CNN reporter also faced backlash for bringing up the rape allegation on the same day that Bryant died:
Yes Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but he’s also faced a very credible rape accusation where the woman was choked and submitted to a rape-kit test which found injuries “not consistent with consensual sex.”https://t.co/HsItwC7VaC
— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) January 26, 2020
Reporter Nathan McDermott linked to the same Daily Beast article as Sonmez.
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