Director Roman Polanski is suing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after he was removed from the organization last May.
Polanski was removed last May along with Bill Cosby in the wake of the #MeToo movement and Harvey Weinstein’s removal from the Academy in October 2017. He has previously been awarded eight Oscars by the Academy.
The Academy released a statement announcing their vote to expel Polanski and Cosby:
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors met on Tuesday night (May 1) and has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct. The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”
Polanski’s attorney, Harland Braun, commented on the expulsion to Variety last year, “It sets a very poor example.” He added, “It seems to be wrong to just expel someone and make a decision without knowing all the facts.”
In 1977, Polanski famously plead guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor after he was accused of raping 13-year-old Samantha Jane Gailey, now Samantha Geimer. Polanski had plead not guilty to all charges, but accepted a plea deal. Before accepting the plea deal, Polanski had been charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. Before Polanski was sentenced he fled the United States.
Braun told Variety, “He accepted responsibility. He apologized to the woman. She has accepted his apology. It’s a very ignorant thing to do.” In fact, after Polanski was expelled from the Academy, Geimer called it “an ugly and cruel action which serves only appearance.” She added, “It does nothing to change the sexist culture in Hollywood today and simply proves that they will eat their own to survive. I say to Roman, good riddance to bad rubbish, the Academy has no true honor, it’s all just P.R.”
Geimer has also made it clear that she has forgiven Polanski and believes that he should be allowed to return to the United States:
“Forgiveness is a strength that helps the victim. It frees you from hatred and regret. If I do not have a right to forgive “for the public” then victims do not have a right to make victim impact statements to the court and ask for punishment. You can’t have it both ways and only respect the views of those victims who say what you wish to hear. As I’ve already mentioned, people become angry when they discover they can’t use me to suit their purpose. Roman returned to the US, he served his sentence, and he was treated unjustly by a corrupt judge. It’s been 40 years. Enough.”
Now, the director is suing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. According to Page Six, Polanski filed suit in California accusing the Academy of not following protocol. The lawsuit claims that the Academy’s decision “is not supported by findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by evidence.”
Braun spoke to Variety explaining why Polanski was suing the Academy, “We are litigating the fairness of their procedure. They threw him out without warning and without giving him a chance to respond. There was not even any notice of why. After 40 years on the same day as [Bill] Cosby. Give me a break.”
The Academy responded to Polanski’s lawsuit through a spokesperson who said, “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate.”
The lawsuit came after Braun had threatened to take legal action last year. In a letter Braun sent to Academy President John Bailey, he wrote, “I am writing this letter to you to avoid unnecessary litigation.” He would add, ““Mr. Polanski has a right to go to court and require your organization to follow its own procedures, as well as California law.”
The director still enjoys widespread support in Hollywood where many came to his defense after his arrest by Swiss authorities in 2009 at the behest of the United States. However, some have been beginning to distance themselves including Natalie Portman.
What do you make of Roman Polanski’s lawsuit?