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Oscar winner Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault allegations resurface in the #MeToo era

The first Oscars of the #MeToo movement sought to right serious wrongs in Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein was a punchline. Christopher Plummer was nominated for his role in “All the Money in the World” after he replaced Kevin Spacey. And James Franco was snubbed for nominations for “The Disaster Artist” after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

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But on Sunday night, Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for the short animated film he wrote and narrated, “Dear Basketball.” Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault in 2003, when a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado accused him of rape. The accuser told authorities that she was assaulted while he was staying at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. “She said he then grabbed her by the neck, bent her over a chair and violated her as she cried and protested,” wrote Sylvia Moreno for The Washington Post in 2004.  Bryant claimed that the sex was consensual, and he publicly apologized to his wife, Vanessa.

Prosecutors claimed DNA evidence had been “manipulated” and “contaminated” after it was turned over to Bryant’s defense team for testing. The case was dropped after his accuser refused to testify in court. He apologized to his victim in court via a statement read in court by his attorney that said, “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 separate civil case for a sum that wasn’t disclosed. His reputation was harmed, as he lost sponsors and endorsements — but there seems to have been enough distance between the allegations and the current #MeToo movement that Bryant has not been lumped in with all of the other men accused of sexual misconduct in the past few months.

The Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian pointed out the “moral confusion” of the academy in an essay that includes Bryant, past best director winner Roman Polanski and Ryan Seacrest, who hosted his red carpet show after being accused last month of sexual misconduct by a former stylist. (An E! network investigation concluded there was “insufficient evidence” to support the allegations.) “Why are the sexual misdeeds of some men forgivable, while others are not?” Abcarian wrote.

On Twitter, people were eager to point out the discrepancy.

The film, directed by Glen Keane, is based on Bryant’s love letter to basketball, written when he announced his retirement from the NBA.

“It’s a message for all of us, whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible,” Keane said, as he introduced Bryant in his acceptance speech.

“I don’t know if it’s possible. As basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble,” Bryant said, referencing Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s remarks to LeBron James and Kevin Durant for their criticism of President Trump. Bryant thanked his family.

Backstage, Bryant compared winning an Oscar to his basketball accomplishments. “I feel better than winning a championship, to be honest with you,” he said.

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