Roman Polanski's request to rejoin The Academy rejected two years after expulsion

Roman Polanski, the Oscar-winning director who pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 and fled the US the following year, was expelled from the Academy in 2018.

The Associated Press August 26, 2020 08:29:27 IST
Roman Polanski's request to rejoin The Academy rejected two years after expulsion

A judge on Tuesday denied Roman Polanski’s request to restore his membership in the organisation that bestows the Academy Awards two years after he was expelled from it for raping a minor.

The fugitive film director sued in April 2019, asking the court to compel the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make him a member in good standing again.

A year earlier, the academy made the rare move of expelling Polanski and Bill Cosby, months after ending the membership of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Polanski appealed the decision, and in January 2019 the academy rejected his appeal.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel on Tuesday ruled that the academy had a right to expel Polanski, afforded him a fair hearing and gave him sufficient notice of his expulsion. She adopted a tentative ruling that she had issued earlier on Tuesday as her final order.

Harland Braun, Polanski’s lawyer said the 87-year-old director has no plans to appeal Strobel’s decision.

“Roman’s membership in the academy is pretty worthless and we would not waste legal fees for an appeal for no real purpose,” Braun said in an email Tuesday to The Associated Press. “Roman is one of the greatest directors in movie history. His art will survive long after the academy is a forgotten relic.”

An email seeking comment from academy officials wasn’t immediately returned. In 2019 the academy said in a statement that “the procedures taken to expel Mr Polanski were fair and reasonable.”

Polanski, who won a best director Oscar for The Pianist in 2003, remains a fugitive after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 and fleeing the United States the following year. He has been living in Europe since.

He had been an academy member for nearly 50 years at the time of his expulsion, and his films had been nominated for 28 Oscars.

But he had long been one of the organization’s more divisive members. At the 2003 ceremony, Polanski’s win — his first — received a standing ovation. He was not in attendance. He’d previously been nominated for writing his adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby, and directing Chinatown and Tess.

Polanski’s ouster from the group means he can no longer vote for nominees and winners, but he and his films can still win Oscars.

After expelling Weinstein, the academy implemented revised standards of conduct for its over 8,400 members. The standards said the organisation is no place for “people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates standards of decency.”

The standards allowed the academy’s board to suspend or expel those who violate the code of conduct or “compromise the integrity” of the academy.

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