Basketball: Bryant dismay after removal from film jury

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Kobe Bryant has certainly done his best to fix his image following the 2003 rape allegation that marred the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer's career for quite some time.

An animated film festival in L.A. just kicked Kobe Bryant off the festival jury over backlash stemming from his 2003 rape case.

Bryant's short film "Dear Basketball" eventually won the Oscar.

An online petition published on Change.org started making rounds last week, urging people in the arts, as well as patrons, to make a stand against "toxic, violent behavior towards women". In December of that year, Bryant was charged with raping an employee of the Colorado hotel where he was staying.

"I was honored to have been originally invited by Animation is Film to serve on the 2018 Jury, and am disappointed to no longer serve in that capacity", Bryant said.

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The Lakers star said he believed it was a consensual sexual encounter. Although he denied the charges, which were dropped when the accuser refused to testify, Bryant did admit to cheating on his wife Vanessa (left) and reportedly settled a civil suit with the alleged victim.

"On its website 'Animation Is Film' specifically states one of their primary purposes is to champion and support women filmmakers". "Keeping Kobe Bryant on the jury sets a precedent of lenience for sexual criminals and further undermines the visibility and respect that victims of harassment and assault deserve". He wrote in a statement Wednesday that the festival's stakeholders chose to drop Bryant to keep its focus on films.

In his own statement, Bryant said he was disappointed by the decision.

He was scheduled to serve on the jury for the animation festival, which will be held this weekend at the TCL Chinese Theatres. I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation'.

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