Kobe Bryant removed from film festival jury over 2003 rape allegations

Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape allegations are back in the spotlight again.

The former Laker star turned Oscar winner was originally scheduled to be a part of the jury during the Animation is Film Festival this weekend, before a petition called for his removal.

Petitioning against the NBA legend

The petition, which was started by Woman and Allies on Change.org, said that in “light of the #MeToo movement, there has been little to no recourse for Kobe Bryant’s actions of sexual assault.”

Organizers called on GKIDS, the independent animation distributor that produces the event, as well as Variety and Annecy, sponsors of the event, to revoke their complicity in enabling a sexual predator to continue a life without any accountability both as an individual and a celebrity.

Keeping him on the jury, the petition says, sets a future precedent for sexual criminals while disrespecting their victims.

“This is an urgent time to say NO to toxic and violent behavior against women.”

According to petition updates, Bryant had been removed from the event’s website on Friday, but the official statement was not released until Wednesday.

19 PHOTOS
Kobe Bryant and his family
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Kobe Bryant and his family
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: (L-R) Vanessa Laine Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant and Natalia Diamante Bryant attend Tribeca Talks: Storytellers: Kobe Bryant with Glen Keane during 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant, Gianna Briant, and Natalia Bryant attend Tribeca Talks during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Borough of Manhattan Community College on April 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - JULY 14: Kobe Bryant (top) and (L-R) Vanessa Laine Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, and Natalia Diamante Bryant arrive at Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2016 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 14, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
WESTWOOD, CA - JULY 14: (L-R) Gianna Bryant, Vanessa Bryant, former NBA player Kobe Bryant and Natalia Bryant attend the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2016 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 14, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - JULY 14: Vanessa Laine Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant and Natalia Diamante Bryant attend the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 14, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 19: LA Laker Kobe Bryant, wife Vanessa Bryant and daughters Natalia Diamante Bryant (L) and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant (R) attend the Kobe Bryant hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on February 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant holds his daughter Natalia during practice for the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston, Texas, February 16, 2013. The All-Star game will be played on February 17. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Natalia Diamante Bryant watch swimming events during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre August 4, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SWIMMING OLYMPICS SPORT BASKETBALL)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant smiles with daughters Gianna (R) and Natalia with the Bill Russell MVP Trophy after his team defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 to win the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Los Angeles, California June 17, 2010 . REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant carries his daughter Gianna, as his wife Vanessa and daughter Natalia (2nd R) stand next to him during the NBA Championship parade in Los Angeles, California, June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (top R) holds the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship trophy as his wife Vanessa (top L) and daughters Natalia (bottom L) and Gianna watch after the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic to win the NBA Championship in Game 5 in Orlando, Florida June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)
Vanessa Bryant (C), wife of Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant, watches the Lakers NBA game against the Seattle Supersonics with their two daughters Gianna Maria-Onore (R) and Natalia (L) in Los Angeles November 3, 2006. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant poses with his wife Vanessa and their daughter Natalia at the premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" at Disneyland in Anaheim, California May 19, 2007. The movie opens in the U.S. on May 25. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES)
Basketball super star Kobe Bryant watches with his two daughters, Natalia (R) and Gianna (L) as Los Angeles Galaxy plays the San Jose Earthquakes in a Major League Soccer game in Carson, California April 3, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)
Basketball super star Kobe Bryant reacts along with his wife Vanessa (L) and their two daughters Natalia (R) and Gianna as they watch the Los Angeles Galaxy plays against the San Jose Earthquakes in a Major League Soccer game in Carson, California April 3, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)
Vanessa Bryant (R), wife of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, hugs their daughter Natalia during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs, in Los Angeles November 28, 2003. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson LN/HB
Vanessa Bryant (L), wife of unrestricted free agent Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Natalia, listen to Kobe speak at a press conference to announce he will remain with the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-year deal for the NBA's league maximum of $136 million in El Segundo, California, July 15, 2004. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson LN
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers arrives with his wife Vanessa and daughter Natalia to a news conference at the team's training facility in El Segundo, California July 15, 2004. Bryant signed a seven-year contract worth more than $136 million to remain with the Lakers. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith RG
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 19: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers poses with wife Vanessa and daughters Giana (L) and Natalia during a ceremony honoring Bryant for moving into third place on the all time NBA scoring list and passing Michael Jordan, before the game withthe Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on December 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Film Festival speaks out

Eric Beckman, the CEO of GKIDS, addressed the complaints and said that the stakeholders decided to “drop Bryant to keep its focus on films.”

The inaugural festival, which states on its website as one of its missions to “champion and support women filmmakers“, launched just last year.

 “We are a young organization and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers, and our festival attendees.” Beckman said.

Bryant’s statement

Bryant also released a statement on Wednesday, expressing disappointment, but not addressing the petition and the rape allegations that led to the invitation being rescinded.

“This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry,” Bryant said. “I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”

Not the first controversy for the Oscar winner

Bryant’s allegations from his athletic career have followed him into his new film career.

A different petition earlier this year called for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind his nomination for Best Animated Short Film. 

Over 17,000 people signed the petition which started in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

“An important conversation has been started about sexual assualt and harassment,” organizers wrote. “So why is Bryant being honored for best animated short if Time really is Up?”

Bryant’s short film “Dear Basketball” would eventually win the Oscar.

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Kobe Bryant's career
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Kobe Bryant's career
CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 8: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers soars for a dunk during the 1997 Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk Contest on February 8, 1997 at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant(L) and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan(R) talk during a free-throw attempt during the fourth quarter 17 December at the United Center in Chicago. Bryant, who is 19 and bypassed college basketball to play in the NBA, scored a team-high 33 points off the bench, and Jordan scored a team-high 36 points. The Bulls defeated the Lakers 104-83. AFP PHOTO VINCENT LAFORET (Photo credit should read VINCENT LAFORET/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 8: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game played on February 8, 1998 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
03/02/98 - MCI Center - Lakers' Kobie Bryant(L) listens to teammate Shaquille O'Neal as they sit on the bench during game against the Wizards. - Photo By Rich Lipski TWP (Photo by Rich Lipski/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
USA - 1999: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a layup during a 1999 NBA game. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1999 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 19: Shaquille O'Neal #34 and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers pose with Lakers legend Magic Johnson after winning the NBA Championship trophy after defeating the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the 2000 NBA Finals on June 19, 2000 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2000 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
28 Dec 2001: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers chilling out before their game against the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. DIGITAL IMAGE. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Licence Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2001 NBAE. Mandatory Credit: Catherine Steenkeste/ NBAE/ Getty Images
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates victory following Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won the National Basketball Association championships defeating Orlando 99-86 for their 15th title and first since 2002. Bryant had 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-one victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 27: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for the shot over Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons during the game at Staples Center on February 27, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Pistons 95-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: 2003 NBAE. (Photo by: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO - MAY 7: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers answers questions from the press after Game two of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at SBC Center on May 7, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs won 114-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Copyright 2003 NBAE (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant answers questions during a press conference held at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, Calif.. Thursday, July 15, 2004. Bryant chose the Lakers over the Clippers, remaining with the team he joined in 1996 at age 18 and later helped win three NBA championships. (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)
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