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As more and more people come forward to tell their stories as victims of sexual assault inside the entertainment industry, Hollywood is trying to figure out how to react when one of their own is accused of anything from harassment to rape. While these stories and this problem are not new to the industry, victims have found new courage and solidarity in the wake of the Harvey Weistein scandal and the #MeToo movement.
Some have criticized the industry since many of the same people who expressed outrage at the Weistein scandal gave a standing ovation to Roman Polanski, a director who admitted to having sex with a child. But just last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) finally rescinded Polanski's membership, along with that of Bill Cosby. Now Polanski is threatening the academy with a lawsuit.
A Guilty Fugitive Expelled
Roman Polanski is famous for films like "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," and "The Pianist." However, he's also famous for drugging and then having sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer, in 1977. For that, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, but he fled the country and has been living as a fugitive in Europe ever since.
Last week, AMPAS voted to expel Polanski and Cosby (who was convicted of three counts of sexual assault in April). The academy explained its decision, writing, "The board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the academy's values of respect for human dignity."
Polanski's Lawsuit Letter
However, Polanski's attorney, Harland Braun, argues in a letter to the academy that it failed to follow its own rules for dealing with violations of its standards of conduct. He also says their actions violated state law. In January, the academy did implement new procedures for handling violations, and Braun argues that state law requires a member's expulsion be done "in good faith and in a fair manner."
Braun contends that Polanski should at least be granted a hearing where he can present his case against expulsion. "Otherwise, we've got to go to court and get a judge to rule that the academy has to follow its own rules, which should be a no-brainer," the letter reads. However, it's hard to imagine how Polanski could argue against expulsion when he admitted to the criminal acts in question anyway.
If you've been the victim of sexual assault, don't hesitate to contact an attorney who can help you seek justice.