Academy: Polanski Had Chance to Defend His Membership

Fugitive film director Roman Polanski was given ample opportunity to challenge his expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and as the subject of a decades-old arrest warrant, he lacks the ability to sue over the issue, according to court papers filed by the Academy.

Polanski was expelled from the Academy in 2018 in accordance with a newly enacted code of conduct for members. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 before facing possible prison time for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.

He has continued to work and won an Oscar in 2003 for directing the World War II drama "The Pianist."

He sued the Academy in April, saying he was ousted from the organization without notice or a chance to be heard and that his request for reconsideration was subsequently denied. But in court papers filed Monday, the Academy contended that Polanski was given plenty of change to contest the Academy's action.

According to the court documents, the Academy responded in May 2018 to his complaints about being denied a fair hearing by inviting him "to submit any written information he believed was relevant to the Academy's consideration of whether he should or should not remain a member of the Academy."

Polanski "presented a 10-page letter from his lawyer advocating his position, over 400 pages of supporting documents, a copy of a documentary titled 'Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,' and an email from his counsel, and a recorded video statement by (Polanski) addressing the board," according to the court papers.

Despite those documents, the Academy's Board of Governors voted by more than a two-thirds supermajority to uphold his expulsion, the court papers state.

The Academy's court papers also contend that Polanski is barred from filing a lawsuit challenging his expulsion due to the "doctrine of fugitive disentitlement."

"Petitioner has been a fugitive for over four decades," the court papers state. "He pled guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor on Aug. 8, 1977, and subsequently failed to appear for a scheduled sentencing hearing on Feb. 1, 1978, causing a bench warrant to be issued for his arrest. Fully aware that he was due in court for sentencing, petitioner instead fled to France. He has not since returned to the United States, where criminal proceedings against him remain pending to date."

Polanski was originally admitted to the Academy in December 1968 with the help of a letter signed by the late Gregory Peck, Polanski's court papers state.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us