“The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate,” a spokesperson said.
The Academy’s statement comes after Polanski filed suit against the non-profit this week, demanding reinstatement after he was ousted last May.
The suit, filed in the state of California, says the Academy did not follow proper protocol in dismissing him nearly a year ago. The Academy did so “in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct,” they said at the time, adding their leadership expected members to “uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”
Polanski’s suit says the Academy’s expulsion decision “is not supported by findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by evidence.” The Oscar winner wants the decision reversed and is asking the Academy to pay any costs incurred by the suit.
Suspension or expulsion from the group requires two-thirds approval of the 54-member board of governors. An Academy spokesperson declined to elaborate on the group’s plan to address the suit.
“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.” Polanski’s attorney Harland Braun told Variety on Friday.
Braun indicated that Polanski would pursue legal action in 2018, sending a heated letter to Academy president John Bailey arguing Polanski had a right to go to court “and require your organization to follow its own procedures, as well as California law.”
Polanski was dismissed along with comedian Bill Cosby at a time when the #MeToo movement encouraged hundred of sexual assault and harassment accusers to come forward with accounts of abuse at the hands of powerful Hollywood men. Months before Polanski and Cosby were dismissed, the Academy moved swiftly to eject Harvey Weinstein from its ranks.
Polanski, who was arrested in 1977 for raping a 13-year-old girl, has lived in France for decades in order to avoid imprisonment. Though he continued to make films with top talent, winning an Oscar 2003 for “The Pianist,” his past crimes received renewed attention in the post-Weinstein era. Polanski’s other directing credits include “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby.”