Kobe Bryant kicked off panel for animated film festival over public protest

Kobe Bryant’s invitation to be on a panel for an animated film festival has been rescinded.

The former NBA star’s placement as a judge for the the Animation Is Film Festival was met with public backlash due to the 2003 rape allegation against him.

Eric Becker, the CEO of GKIDS, which puts on the festival, announced the decision Thursday, via the Associated Press.

“After discussions with the various stakeholders of Animation Is Film, the decision has been made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury,” Beckman said in a statement. “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.”

Bryant released his own statement, expressing his disappointment in the festival’s decision.

“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’s statement read. “I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”

Bryant entered the world of animation with his short “Dear Basketball,” which won an Academy Award last year. He founded his own company, Granity Studios, which specializes in creating animated pieces.

Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2003. Bryant admitted there was a sexual encounter, but that it was consensual.

The charges against Bryant were dropped when the woman refused to testify against him, but she later filed a civil suit. Bryant and the woman settled out of court.