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- Disney heiress Abigail Disney spoke out in two-dozen tweets Saturday about the late Kobe Bryant's 2003 rape allegations.
- The allegations never made it to trial, and though Bryant said the sex was consensual, he eventually apologized to his accuser, The New York Times reported.
- Disney said Bryant could be mourned but said people should not "deify him because he was not a god."
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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."
—Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) February 1, 2020
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.
—michelle Polite (@michellePolit10) February 1, 2020
—Splash (@flashazoid) February 1, 2020
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.
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