Disney heiress takes on Kobe Bryant's legacy: 'The man was a rapist, deal with it'

'If Kobe acknowledged what he had done, it would have been different'

03 February 2020 - 11:13 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Abigail Disney said Kobe Bryant's death was sad, but it can be 'excruciating' to watch someone who hurt someone else get 'sainthood treatment under any circumstances' .
Abigail Disney said Kobe Bryant's death was sad, but it can be 'excruciating' to watch someone who hurt someone else get 'sainthood treatment under any circumstances' .
Image: Xinyu Cui/Getty Images

“It’s time for the sledgehammer to come out. The man was a rapist. Deal with it.”

These are the words of Disney heiress Abigail Disney, who addressed the 2003 rape allegations made against the late US basketball star Kobe Bryant.

Kobe died in a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of seven others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna last month.

“I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in,” Disney said in a series of tweets, before telling everyone to unfollow her if they didn't like what she was about to say.

“OK, time to bite the bullet and say something. 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.”

She went on to send her condolences to the Bryant family and said a person can do “both good and bad” in a lifetime.

Disney said all the good Kobe achieved does not change the fact that he allegedly raped someone.

“I feel terrible for Kobe's family, and especially for Vanessa. It is unequivocally horrible that all these lives were lost to a terrible tragedy.

“I mourn Kobe too. He went on to be a man who seemed genuinely to want to do good. The [fact] that he raped someone does not change any of these other facts,” she said.

According to a New York Times report, in 2003 a 19-year-old woman accused Bryant of sexually assaulting her while he was in Colorado for a knee operation.

He reportedly asked the young woman, a concierge at a hotel Bryant was staying at during that time, for a private tour.

After the tour, Bryant invited the woman to his room, where he began kissing her. Bryant claimed they had consensual sex but the woman alleged it was rape.

The woman later reported the alleged rape, and authorities found bruises on her neck and tears to her vaginal wall.

The case never went to trial as the woman refused to testify in court. Bryant later settled with the woman in civil court, Vox News reported.

Bryant issued a statement saying: “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognise 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 she did not consent to this encounter.”

Disney said Kobe's statement “said it all”, and went on to compare him to a drunk driver responsible for killing someone.

“Whose view should take precedence? Well, if you feel raped, can an apology unrape you? Can the 'accidental' nature of the rape unrape you?” she asked.

“When a drunk driver kills someone, does his lack of intention absolve him of responsibility for the death?

“Of course not. We are responsible for all of the things we do, whether or not we meant to do them.”

Disney said  it can be “excruciating” to watch someone who hurt someone else get “sainthood treatment under any circumstances".

She said if Kobe had gone on “to acknowledge what he had done, it would have been different”.

Disney ended the thread by once again saying the death of Bryant was sad, but he was not “a god” and should not be deified.