Disney heiress tweets Kobe Bryant 'was a rapist' as she weighs in on his past

Disney heiress tweets Kobe Bryant 'was a rapist' as she weighs in on his past

On Sunday, the world was rocked by the news that LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has passed away in a helicopter crash along with eight other people, one of whom was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

Since the devastating news hit, tributes have flooded in for the former NBA star - from good friend Shaquille O'Neal to TV host Ellen DeGeneres.

Kobe's LA Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal breaks down in touching tribute:

However, there have also been several people online who are using Bryant's passing as a reminder of the sexual assault allegations the basketball star was faced with back in the early 2000s.

Earlier this week, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez was met with fierce backlash after tweeting a link to a 2016 Daily Beast Article, entitled: 'Kobe Bryant's Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, The Accuser's Story, and the Half-Confession'.

Now, Walt Disney's great-niece, Abigail Disney, has been met with similar fury after labeling the late LA Laker's star "a rapist" just days after his death.

Writing to her 58,000+ followers, the Disney heiress wrote:

"I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in. But yes, it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out. The man was a rapist. Deal with it."

The Emmy Award-winning filmaker accompanied her tweet with a link to an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled, "Remember Kobe Bryant required the hammer of truth".

Within the article, columnist David Von Drehle details the aftermath of Bryant's death and how his colleague, Felicia Sonmez, was suspended for tweeting about the basketball legend's past allegations.

Von Drehle writes: "After the crash, she swung a 20-pound sledgehammer at the Bryant story, tweeting a link to a detailed report of the highly credible rape accusation lodged against the hard-court hero in 2003.

"When I say 'highly credible,' I mean that Bryant himself admitted that he engaged in rough sex with his accuser, choked her so violently that she had bruises on her jawline and left her with multiple lacerations."

David also acknowledged that Felicia was reinstated by The Post on Tuesday.

In response to Disney's tweet, there were several Twitter users who supported her decision to share the story, and thanked her for doing so:

However, there were also many people who found the tweet to be in poor taste and hit out at Disney.

Twitter user Cindy Barr replied to Disney, saying: "This is unfair and not ok. Feel how you will about him but his wife lost her husband, his daughters lost their father. If you must go down this road, educate yourself fully on that situation first, you just may feel a bit differently."

And another tweeted: "Your opinion is your opinion. Find the smallest ounce of dignity you can find in that cold heart of yours & show respect to his grieving family. Now is NOT the time for this. If for no one else, be a decent human being for his children who are suffering. STOP"

Regarding the assault claims, Bryant, who was married at the time, admitted to having an adulterous encounter with the woman but said that he believed it was consensual, but could see how the woman did not "view the incident the same way". Bryant stated in 2004:

"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."