Kobe Bryant, rape allegations, and a Disney heiress

Here’s a story that emerged in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash last month. Among those killed with him was his 13 year old daughter.

https://www.businessinsider.com/kobe-bryant-abigail-disney-rape-allegations-not-a-god

Disney heiress says Kobe Bryant ‘was not a god’ in lengthy Twitter thread about rape allegations

abigail disney

Abigail Disney spoke out about Bryant’s rape allegations Saturday.

Disney heiress Abigail Disney addressed the rape allegations against late NBA star Kobe Bryant in a 24-tweet thread on Saturday that urged people to avoid turning Bryant into a god.

The 60-year-old, who is the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney — a cofounder of the Walt Disney Company — had in a tweet January 29 shared an op-ed from the Washington Post about allegations Bryant faced some 17 years ago, writing “The man was a rapist. Deal with it.”

On February 1, the Disney heiress, who has a net worth of over $120 million, doubled down on her previous statement, offering new commentary on Bryant, who died January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.  

“OK, time to bite the bullet and say something,” Disney said when she began her Twitter thread early Saturday morning. “If you don’t like it, just stop following. First of all, yes, it IS my business because I’m a woman who has herself been assaulted and spent my life knowing, loving and feeling for women for whom it’s been so much worse.” 

At the onset of the thread, Disney offered praise for Bryant amid her discussion of the rape allegations, noting that a person can do both good and bad things in their lifetime. “I mourn Kobe too,” she wrote. “He went on to be a man who seemed genuinely to want to do good. The face[sic] that he raped someone does not change any of these other facts.”

As The New York Times reported, the allegations stem from Bryant’s 2003 a trip to Colorado for an operation on his knee. Byrant reportedly asked a concierge at the spa where he was staying for a private tour. Following the tour, he invited her to his room where they began kissing. Bryant had said what followed was consensual sex, though his accuser said she was raped. 

Court documents revealed the woman had bruises on her neck and tears on her vaginal wall, The New York Times reported. While the case never went to trial, reportedly over the accusers’ refusal to testify, a lawsuit between Bryant and the accuser resulted in an undisclosed settlement.  

Bryant later apologized to his accuser. 

“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual,” he said in a statement, “I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.”

Disney went on to compare the allegations against Bryant to a drunk driver killing a person. “Does his lack of intention absolve him of responsibility for the death?,” Disney asked. “If he said he wasn’t that drunk or didn’t know he was drunk, or didn’t mean to kill the person, or is really really really sorry, does any of this absolve him?”

“Of course not,” she added in the next tweet. 

Disney’s final takeaway: don’t worship the NBA star. 

“So yes, we should mourn him,” Disney said. “We should mourn his daughter and his family and all the other lives lost on the helicopter. It was horrible. But don’t deify him because he was not a god. That’s all. Just don’t deify him”.

There has been a flood of discourse since Bryant’s death over whether his 2003 rape allegations should be revisited as the world mourns the basketball star’s tragic death. The Washington Post received backlash when it suspended a reporter for sharing an article about the 2003 case on Twitter after Bryant’s death. The DC newspaper would later walk back its decision to suspend the reporter, saying her tweets did not violate WaPo policy. Still, it said her tweets were “ill-timed.” 

The reactions to Disney’s two-dozen tweets were largely negative. 

“Breaking: bored heiress of a multimedia empire has nothing better to do on a Wednesday because her life is completely empty & meaningless,” one Twitter user said in a tweet that was retweeted more than 120 times. 

Not all of the reactions to Disney’s thread were negative, however.

“What a thoughtful thread,” one person tweeted. “Thank you for writing it. I have seen the way that fierce emotional identification and defense of abusive behavior can happen with sports figures.”

Abigail Disney did not return Business Insider’s request for comment.

Here are my responses to that story:

  1. Kobe Bryant was ACCUSED of rape, but he was never brought to trial, let alone convicted. From a strictly legal standpoint, he is NOT a rapist, so calling him one, especially when he is dead and cannot defend himself from that charge, might as well be called SLANDER.
  2. It is entirely possible that the supposed victim was an opportunist who after having sex with Bryant proceeded to sue him in an effort to get money out of him. This is why, even if the sex was indeed consensual, KOBE BRYANT WAS AN IDIOT TO HAVE AN AFFAIR.
  3. Bryant had four daughters at the time of his death and I’m sure they would have been shocked at the idea of their father raping anyone. That’s a bigger issue to me than his celebrity sports status. Sometimes it is better to let dead dogs decay.
  4. Abigail Disney’s personal wealth was completely irrelevant to the issue, so why mention it? If she had been homeless and not even related to Walt Disney at all, the issue would have been the same.
  5. Sports figures ARE glorified and thus are largely shielded by their own fans from their reputation being damaged by accusations of wrongdoing. We saw that to some extent with O J Simpson, who was a football star early in his life. To this day, I think Simpson got away with murder because he was a rich celebrity; a poor man would have been convicted and sent to prison for life.
  6. Yes, point 5 does seem to contradict point 1. Maybe someday I will have a more consistent ethical position, but for now I have to keep thinking about the matters more. I just feel that one mistake made by a man shouldn’t destroy his life…..unless that mistake destroys other lives. Murder is far worse than rape or adultery. And all people make mistakes.

 

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