Polanski Threatens Film Academy over Expulsion

BEVERLY HILLS (CNS) - Roman Polanski's attorney sent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a letter this week threatening to take legal action if the director is not granted a hearing over the academy's decision to expel him, it was reported today.

In the letter sent Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, attorney Harland Braun said the academy had failed to follow both its own rules and California law in denying the Oscar-winning director a chance to present his own case.

``We are not here contesting the merits of the expulsion decision, but rather your organization's blatant disregard of its own Standards of Conduct in, as well as its violations of the standards required by California Corporations Code," Braun wrote.

The academy's board of governors, which includes such industry heavyweights as Tom Hanks, Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg, voted last week to expel the Oscar-winning filmmaker, along with disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, in accordance with new standards of conduct adopted by the group in response to the sexual harassment scandals that have rocked the industry since the fall.

Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to unlawful sex with a minor, then-13- year-old Samantha Geimer, but fled before he could be sentenced. Since fleeing the country, he has been living in exile in Europe for the past four decades and is considered a fugitive by the U.S. criminal justice system. Cosby was convicted of three counts of sexual assault April 26.

``The only thing we're asking for is a hearing, a chance to present his side," Braun told The Times in an interview. ``What I would hope is that (the academy's legal counsel) would say, `Let's avoid an expensive lawsuit. Let's just start over. We'll rescind the expulsion and we'll put him on notice that we're thinking of expelling him and we'll give you the opportunity to present your case.' That's the only rational thing. 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.''

It was not immediately clear where the hearing Braun wants would take place. The 84-year-old Polanski presumably would be arrested if he returned to California.

There was no immediate response from the Academy.

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