In Brief

Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski Expelled from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The body that oversees the Oscars voted on Tuesday to expel the two men. Cosby was recently convicted of sexual assault, while Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 1977.

Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski (Cosby photo by The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia; Polanski photo by Georges Biard)
Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski (Cosby photo by The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia; Polanski photo by Georges Biard)

Last week, the jury in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania found the comedian, actor, and art collector guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the body that gives out the Oscars) announced that Cosby and the filmmaker Roman Polanski — who in 1977 pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor before fleeing the country to avoid serious prison time — have been expelled from the Academy.

According to today’s announcement from the Academy, its Board of Governors met on Tuesday night and voted to oust Cosby and Polanski for not upholding its Standards of Conduct. “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” the brief statement concluded.

Allegations against Cosby have piled up in recent years, with a total of 62 women coming forward to accuse him of sexual assault, rape, and other crimes. His recent trial was the culmination of one of the most high-profile cases of the #MeToo movement. (Also this week, Yale University retracted an honorary degree it had given him.)

Polanski, meanwhile, has been living in exile, mostly in France, since 1978. The charges from his 1977 arrest are still pending. This week’s decision to expel him marks a major shift in the Academy’s (and Hollywood’s) attitude toward Polanski. In 2003, he won the Oscar for Best Director for The Pianist, and there’s a long history of powerful men in the film industry (including Harvey Weinstein, who was kicked out of the Academy last year) voicing their support for Polanski.

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