The suit, filed in the state of California, says AMPAS 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 eight-time Oscar winner wants the decision reversed and the Academy to pay costs incurred by the suit.
An Academy spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Suspension or expulsion from the group, which picks the annual Academy Award winners, requires two-thirds approval of the 54-member board of governors.
“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 saying 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 in step 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 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 and drugging a 13-year-old girl. He pled guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor, but fled to France in order to avoid imprisonment. Though he continued to make films with top talent, winning an Oscar in 2003 for “The Pianist,” his past crime has received renewed attention in the current era.