The Oscar-winning filmmaker was expelled alongside Bill Cosby “in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct.” Cosby was recently found guilty of sexual assault, while Polanski has been living in exile since 1978, fleeing the United States after accepting a plea bargain to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. The incident took place in 1977 when Polanski was 43 and his victim, Samantha Gailey, was 13.
In a letter to the Academy, Polanski’s lawyer Harland Braun said the organization’s decision to strip the filmmaker of his membership was unlawful according to its own rules and regulations. While he noted that Polanski “acknowledged his legal and moral responsibility for his misconduct in 1977,” he said the Academy did not give Polaniski “the mandatory notice of the proposed action and an opportunity to present his side of the controversy as required by law.”
Braun cited the Academy’s own grievances process, which was updated in January. He said the rules gave Polanski 10 days notice to present his side. However, the Academy reportedly used a loophole that allows its Board of Governors to “address and take action on any matter, whether submitted by the process outlined above or not, related to a member’s status.”
Still, Braun said he hoped to “avoid unnecessary litigation” and noted, “The only proper solution would be for your organization to rescind its illegal expulsion of Mr. Polanski and follow its own Standards of Conduct by giving Mr. Polanski reasonable notice of the charges against him and a fair hearing to present his position with respect to any proposed expulsion.”
While the 1977 incident is the most well-known of the allegations against Polanski, three other women have accused the director of sexual misconduct. In 2010, British actress Charlotte Lewis said Polanski “forced himself” on her, and in August 2016, a woman identified as Robin M. claimed the director “sexually victimized” her when she was 16. Last October, Renate Langer, a former German actress, accused Polanski of raping her when she was 15.