The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said on Thursday that it had expelled actor-comedian Bill Cosby and filmmaker Roman Polanski, both of whom have been convicted of sexual offences, from its membership. The decision was in keeping with the organisation’s new Standards of Conduct, instituted after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the Academy said in a statement.
“The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” the Academy’s statement read.
Cosby was on April 26 convicted for drugging and molesting an acquaintance in 2004. The 80-year-old comedian and actor has been accused of rape, assault, sexual battery and related crimes by about 60 women. Cosby has also been removed from the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame in light of the conviction.
Polanski had admitted to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 after a plea bargain in a rape and assault case, but fled from the United States in 1978 to escape imprisonment. In 2003, the Academy awarded Polanski an Oscar award for Best Director for The Pianist while he was living in exile in Paris.
In October 2017, the Academy expelled producer Harvey Weinstein after more than 80 women accused the Hollywood mogul of sexual harassment, including instances of rape.
Following Weinstein’s removal, the Board of Governors at the Academy installed new Standards of Conduct to better handle allegations of misconduct against the Academy’s members.
“This process will ultimately guide the Board of Governors in assessing if certain allegations warrant action regarding membership,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in an email to its members. “If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension or expulsion.”
The Academy’s decision to expel Cosby and Polanski was welcomed by Twitter users, though the 41-year delay by the Academy to take a decision on the French-Polish filmmaker drew some criticism.