BY ANUJ RADIA
The organisation which commemorates the Academy Awards announced that it has expelled two prominent members convicted of sexual offences – Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski – from its membership.
The Academy’s board of governors, following its new procedure for imposing Standards of Conduct that it adopted in the light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, voted to expel the comedian and the director at its most recent meeting on Tuesday.
“The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” the Academy said in a statement announcing their expulsion.
A five-time Oscar nominee, Polanski will keep the Oscar he was awarded in 2003 for directing The Pianist, an honour he could not accept in person because he fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.
Cosby was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand in 2004 by a Pennsylvania jury last Thursday after 14 hours of deliberation. At Cosby’s first trial in 2017, a different jury deadlocked and the matter has ruled a mistrial.
Best known for his television work on I Spy and The Cosby Show, Cosby never received any Motion Picture Academy honours, although he was active on the big screen in the 1970s, starring in such films as Uptown Saturday Night and Mother, Juggs and Speed.
Just this week Tuesday, the Television Academy removed Cosby’s name from its list of Hall of Fame honorees on its website, and a statue of Cosby that once was installed in the Academy’s Hall of Fame Plaza, which had been removed during renovations, will not be returned to the site, although Cosby remains a member of the TV Academy itself.
Other institutions, like Yale University and Cosby’s alma mater Temple University, have also rescinded honorary degrees that they had given Cosby.
The Film Academy adopted a code of conduct for its members in December, following its expulsion of disgraced mogul Weinstein in October, and it then adopted new procedures to handle allegations of workplace misconduct in January.
The first test of the new procedure came when a complaint was lodged against current Academy president John Bailey, but the board dismissed those charges in March, and Bailey remains president.