AceShowbiz - Retired basketball superstar Kobe Bryant has been dumped from a film festival jury following backlash related to his 2003 rape case.
The former Los Angeles Lakers legend was invited to judge the Animation is Film Festival this weekend at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood, but event organisers have decided it's best if he's a no-show.
"After discussions with the various stakeholders of Animation Is Film, the decision has been made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury," event boss Eric Beckman says.
Kobe, who won an Academy Award for his "Dear Basketball" animated short, was not a popular pick for some festival chiefs and last week (ends October 12), a petition popped up on Change.org demanding Bryant be dropped from the event, according to TMZ.
"This is an urgent time to say NO to toxic and violent behavior against women," the petition reads. "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."
Bryant was arrested in Colorado in 2003 in connection with an investigation of a sexual assault complaint filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where he was staying ahead of knee surgery.
The accuser claimed the sportsman raped her in his hotel room. Bryant admitted to committing adultery with his accuser but denied her sexual assault allegation.
The assault case was dropped the following year by prosecutors after the accuser refused to testify at the trial.
Bryant later apologised to the accuser, stating: "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."
He later settled a separate civil lawsuit brought against him.