Hollywood started to take sexual assault seriously — then it gave Kobe Bryant an Oscar

Remember when Kobe Bryant was credibly accused of rape?

Filmmakers Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane, winners of the Animated Short award for “Dear Basketball” pose in the press room during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Filmmakers Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane, winners of the Animated Short award for “Dear Basketball” pose in the press room during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Sunday night, the same organization that has promised to protect and advocate for women in a post-Weinstein world awarded an Academy Award to someone who faced credible allegations of sexual assault.

Kobe Bryant, former NBA basketball player, won an Oscar for “Dear Basketball,” an animated short Bryant wrote announcing his retirement.

Advertisement

Many on the internet immediately were unsettled by the timing of the win, considering Bryant’s past and the flurry of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent Hollywood figures that have rattled the industry for months.

In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel employee filed a sexual assault complaint against Bryant, who was staying at the hotel in advance of undergoing knee surgery.

Advertisement

Whether or not Bryant and the woman engaged in sexual activity that night is not in question — Bryant admitted to cheating on his wife, Vanessa. But the woman he claimed to have committed adultery with said she did not consent to that activity.

“Although I truly believe the encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way that I did,” Kobe wrote in a statement.

The criminal charges were ultimately dropped after 15 months, the civil case was settled behind closed doors, and Kobe Bryant continued to play professional basketball more than ten years after the fact while his victim was publicly discredited and blamed in the media.

Advertisement

Kobe Bryant’s win is a prime example of credible allegations having a very little adverse affect on the careers of prominent men in positions of power. Similarly, it unveils how how the #MeToo movement doesn’t know quite how to handle older allegations. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Casey Affleck remain in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences despite numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.


UPDATE, 11:50 p.m. Sunday: Gary Oldman, who was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, won the Academy Award for best actor Sunday night. In 2001, The New York Daily News reported Donya Fiorentino’s account of one of the incidents.

“As I picked up the phone to call the police, Gary put his hand on my neck and squeezed,” Fiorentino said. “I backed away, with the phone receiver in my hand. I tried to dial 911. Gary grabbed the phone receiver from my hand, and hit me in the face with the telephone receiver three or four times. Both of the children were crying.”

She addressed the allegations Sunday ahead of the Academy Awards, telling the Mail on Sunday, “He is a great actor. Was he a great husband? No.”

“Our marriage was a giant car crash in which demented things happened. I lost my self-esteem,” Fiorentino went on. “I was broken. I would rather get eaten by a great white shark than go through that marriage again.”