NEW YORK • Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby and fugitive director Roman Polanski have been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after a vote by its board of governors on Tuesday night, the organisation announced on Thursday.
The action comes after Cosby was found guilty last week of sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee. Many dozens of women have stepped forward saying he drugged and assaulted them too. On Thursday, his wife of 50 years, Camille, jumped to his defence, calling the conviction "mob justice, not real justice".
Polanski, the Poland-born film-maker who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2003 for The Pianist, has been a fugitive from the United States since 1978, after he fled while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape.
Last year, the academy adopted a code of conduct that reads, in part: "There is no place in the academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognised standards of decency."
In October last year, it expelled movie producer Harvey Weinstein after increasing numbers of women stepped forward with sexual harassment and rape allegations.
Because of the precedent set by his ouster, the action against Cosby was not a surprise. However, the decision to kick out Polanski will probably shock some in Hollywood, where he has enjoyed a measure of support.
Now, questions are swirling about how the academy will treat actor Kevin Spacey and film-maker Woody Allen.
Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner, is facing multiple claims of abuse. Allen, who has vigorously denied allegations made by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow that he molested her as a child, is reportedly not an academy member.