The basketball player, 41, was killed with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people when his helicopter crashed in California’s Calabasas hills on Sunday.
Taking to Twitter after news broke about the incident, Woods referred to a sexual assault charge filed against Bryant in 2003 by a 19-year-old chambermaid.
“What happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family,” Woods wrote.
“He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”
She later added: “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.”
Prosecutors later dropped the 2003 charges, which could have sent the former Lakers player to prison for life, but a civil case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Bryant made a public apology at the time and said: “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.”
Wood’s comments outraged some social media users who said she was making the tragedy about herself.
Actress Kyla Pratt responded: “Evan. We met as kids & I grew up in the same industry has you and have admired your work from afar these past few years. On camera and off. But this tweet? How f*****g dare you?”
One person said: “And this is where the Me too movement has gotten out of control… attacking a man who literally just died less than 24 hours ago, with his little girl!
“Was it proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he raped somebody? Did he go to jail? Was he charged?.”
Another added: “What is wrong with you?!?! Does it actually make you feel better to post this – now?
“A father and child are gone from their family & friends. And fans. FOREVER. Yet here you are spitting on his grave that hasn’t even been dug yet.”
Others questioned the timing of the post and one added: “A 13 year old has just died, a mother has lost her child, three others are also gone. Maybe now is not the time.”
However social media users spoke out in defence of the Westworld actress.
One said: “How many people mad at Evan right now know that she helped change a law to help rape victims?”
Journalist Sarah Bladen came out in support of the actress and said: “Yes sadly these truths can and often do exist simultaneously.
“Thanks for being courageous enough to point this out.”