As reported by

Bryant’s win was a surprising throwback to when Oscar night was a time to brush industry ills under the red carpet in the name of celebration.

On July 1, 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman at a Colorado resort. The woman, a hotel employee, gave Bryant a tour around the property, and he asked her to return to his room later in the evening. She told police that they kissed, but when she tried to leave, she said that “he started to choke me.”

The woman went to the police the day after the alleged assault and was treated at a nearby hospital. A nurse later testified during a preliminary hearing that the accuser suffered vaginal injuries that were “not consistent with consensual sex.”

When police confronted Bryant the evening after the incident, he initially denied that he had any sexual contact with the woman. It wasn’t until after officers told him they had retrieved bodily fluids from the accuser that Bryant conceded they had sex, but he insisted that it was “totally consensual.”

Bryant was charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment. During preliminary hearings, Bryant’s defense team focused their efforts on discrediting the accuser. They painted her as promiscuous and unstable, and the depiction was widely picked up in the media. Outlets were quick to publish sordid revelations about the woman’s past, and the defense team leaned on this information to buttress their claim that her injuries may have been the result of having sex with “multiple partners” over a short period of time.

While her sexual past was a focus, the AP also published a story on the woman’s medical history, specifically an incident four months before the alleged assault where she was hospitalized at college for “a mental health issue.”

Just weeks before the case was set to go to trial, the woman wrote an apology letter to the state investigator handling the case. In it, she apologized for misstatements she made during her initial interview with the police the day after the alleged assault. She had told the detective she was late to work on the afternoon she met Bryant due to car trouble when she had “simply overslept.” She also apologized for saying that Bryant had forced her to wash her face afterwards in the room. “Instead,” she wrote, “I stopped at the mirror by the elevator on that floor to clean my face up.”

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