On Sunday night at the Academy Awards where the #MeToo movement was celebrated, one Oscar was given that belied the supposed devotion of Hollywood to rectifying the wrongs against women.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was accused of sexual assault in 2003, and later settled out of court after the reputation of his accuser was attacked in court, was given an Oscar for Best Animated Short for the short film "Dear Basketball," which was based on his retirement from the NBA.
As The New York Daily News noted:
To award Bryant with an Oscar in the age of #MeToo proved a head-scratcher for many, especially considering the hit frontrunner James Franco took, as his film "The Disaster Artist" was snubbed of all major awards after sexual assault accusations against him broke.
Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old desk clerk on July 2, 2003, while he was staying at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Colorado; he was in Colorado for an operation on his knee.
The left-wing site ThinkProgress took Bryant to task for the incident, writing:
Bryant, a new father of a six-month-old daughter, made small talk with the blonde, and once they arrived at his room, he took her aside and requested that she come back later to give him a private tour of the hotel. She obliged, and after the tour and mild flirtations, Bryant invited her into his hotel room. Just five minutes later, the woman exited the room, disheveled and reportedly distraught. Her underwear was bloody, as was Bryant’s shirt. …
On July 2, both the alleged victim and Bryant were taken to the hospital for examinations. There was a small bruise around her neck, and she had tears on her vaginal wall. An arrest warrant was issued for Bryant on July 4th, and on July 18th, charges were filed.
She was a sexually active teenager who had attempted suicide twice and been briefly hospitalized for mental illness. She was an aspiring singer who had once tried out for American Idol. She had a lingering crush on her ex-boyfriend. So very quickly, a picture was painted of a fame-hungry, unstable woman who would do anything for attention.
Mark Shaw, who covered the case for ESPN and USA Today, told ThinkProgress, “In the Kobe Bryant case, it was abominable how the accuser was treated. Everyone was at fault. This poor woman, they wore her down, and it happened from the first hearings.” When Shaw covered the case, he wrote, “With her identity known, her past sex life revealed, her mental state common knowledge, and her life in shambles due to constant anguish about the motive behind the charges, it is no wonder that she threw in the towel.”
Bryant’s accuser decided she would not testify; the criminal case was dropped in 2004, prompting Bryant to admit, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
Bryant settled a civil lawsuit out of court in 2005.