Evan Rachel Wood has copped intense backlash online over a tweet in which she called Kobe Bryant a "rapist" just hours after the former NBA star died in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter.

Wood wrote: "What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe's family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously," the tweet read.

Wood was referencing rape allegations against Bryant from 2003 in which a 19-year-old woman accused Bryant of choking and sexually assaulting her.

Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment, but the criminal case was ultimately dropped when the accuser refused to testify and agreed to hear Bryant issue a formal apology in court.

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Bryant and the accuser went to court in a civil case, which was settled in 2005 for an undisclosed amount.

Following her tweet, Wood was bombarded with backlash with many accusing her of hypocrisy due to her past support for David Bowie and Woody Allen.

Lawyer Kathleen Zellner (of Making a Murderer fame) also waded into the fray, tweeting: "Having freed 17 men wrongly convicted of rape, no one should be vilified for an unproven accusation."

Wood followed up her post with an attempt to clarify her intentions saying, "Beloveds, this was not a condemnation or a celebration. It was a reminder that everyone will have different feelings and there is room for us all to grieve together instead of fighting.

"Everyone has lost. Everyone will be triggered, so please show kindness and respect to all."

The Westworld actress is not the first person to be criticised for this type of response; a Washington Post reporter was placed on leave for tweeting about Bryant's allegations and even here in New Zealand, comedian Guy Williams has come under fire too.

He posted: "I feel really uncomfortable about the coverage of Kobe Bryant's death. There's huge praise for his big impact on the court, and little mention of the huge impact his rape trial and his legal team's attacks on the alleged victim had off it.

"He's one of the greatest basketball players ever but when my favourite Basketball podcasts shrug off this massive case that ruined lives and scared rape victims from coming forward as "That Colorado thing" and "Off-court issues" it doesn't feel right."

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Fans were quick to rebuke him, with one saying: "The world moved on, why can't you? And why bring it up on the day he and his 13 [year old daughter] passed. Leave it in the past bro, his mistakes don't define him."

Another wrote: "What better day to get away with defaming someone because they're dead, than the day they died? Stay classy!"

However Williams maintained "The charges weren't dismissed they were dropped by the alleged victim who settled out of court after aggressive attacks on her character. This shouldn't define Kobe Bryant but I think it needs a mention."