The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to strip Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski of their membership. Variety reports that the Academy’s Board of Governors made the decision Tuesday night with a statement to the press on Thursday.
“The Academy … has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct,” the statement read. “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”
Cosby, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, was found guilty of sexual assault in a criminal trial last week. He is currently under house arrest and awaiting sentencing. Cosby’s wife, Camille, said in a statement Thursday that she hoped to clear his name, alleging judicial misconduct. “I am publicly asking for a criminal investigation of that district attorney and his cohorts,” she wrote in a statement. “This is a homogeneous group of exploitive and corrupt people, whose primary purpose is to advance themselves professionally and economically at the expense of Mr. Cosby’s life.”
Polanski won the Oscar for Best Director in 2003 for his work on The Pianist and has been nominated four other times. He has been living in exile since 1978, after fleeing the United States after accepting a plea bargain to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He left before he could be sentenced. He was arrested and detained in Zurich in 2009, but Swiss authorities refused to extradite him to the U.S. the following year. At the time, more than 100 people in the film industry, including Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, endorsed a letter calling for his release from custody and Harvey Weinstein campaigned for the same thing. The director sent a petition to an appellate court but the U.S. denied it, saying he was able to represent himself fine when he was arrested in 1977. Last year, an L.A. County Superior Court judge denied a request from Samantha Geimer, the young woman who was 13 at the time Polanski violated her, to dismiss the case.
The Academy expelled producer Harvey Weinstein last year after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct in The New York Times and The New Yorker. “We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” the Academy said in a statement. “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.”