Polanski's lawyer threatens legal action against Oscar body

Director Roman Polanski has dismissed the #MeToo movement as mass hysteria.
Director Roman Polanski has dismissed the #MeToo movement as mass hysteria.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Film director Roman Polanski is crying foul after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to expel him.

In a letter sent to the academy on Tuesday, his lawyer Harland Braun said the body that hands out the Oscars had failed to follow proper procedure and not held a hearing, as required by law.

"We are not here contesting the merits of the expulsion decision, but rather, your organisation's blatant disregard of its own Standards of Conduct, as well as its violations of the standards required by California Corporations Code, Section 7341," Mr Braun noted.

He added that the 84-year-old Oscar-winning director of Rosemary's Baby (1968) had "acknowledged his legal and moral responsibility" in the 1977 case in which he was accused of sexual assault against then 13-year-old Samantha Geimer, and that she had accepted his apology and appeared in court to support him.

Polanski, who pleaded guilty, fled the United States after learning that the judge planned to sentence him to a harsher prison term than that agreed upon in a plea deal.

Last week, the academy's board of governors, which includes industry bigwigs Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, voted to expel Polanski and disgraced comedian Bill Cosby.

The decision was in line with its new standards of conduct adopted following sexual harassment scandals that have shaken the industry and given rise to the #MeToo movement.

Mr Braun said the only notice Polanski had received from the academy was an unsigned letter informing him he was expelled.

"I hope that the academy understands Mr Polanski asks only for a fair hearing to present his side of all the issues which will also provide members who support expulsion a forum (to) argue their position," Mr Braun said.

Polanski, who lives in France, this week dismissed the #MeToo initiative as "mass hysteria" and "hypocrisy" in an interview with Newsweek Polska.

"I think this is the kind of mass hysteria that occurs in society from time to time," Polanski, who holds dual Polish and French citizenship, told the weekly when asked what he thought about the movie industry's recent reckoning with sexual misconduct.

"Everyone is trying to back this movement, mainly out of fear... I think it's total hypocrisy."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2018, with the headline 'Polanski's lawyer threatens legal action against Oscar body'. Print Edition | Subscribe