The board of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has voted overwhelmingly to expel Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein after the powerful media mogul was accused of sexual abuse and physical assault during the course of his career.
The 54-member Board of Governors of the Academy, the organisation behind the Oscars, made the decision at an emergency session late Saturday after discussing the allegations against Weinstein, and voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy, reports The Washington Post.
“We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of wilful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behaviour and workplace harassment in our industry is over.
“What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify,” the Academy said in a statement.
Weinstein, who was fired by the movie and television studio he co-founded, the Weinstein Company, has denied rape allegations while acknowledging that his behaviour “caused a lot of pain”.
Weinstein’s expulsion signifies an important break with precedent for the Academy, which for years insisted that someone’s professional achievements were unrelated to any scandals he or she might be caught up in, which is why, for example, it refused to expel comedian Bill Cosby, accused of sexually abusing as many as 60 women, reports Efe news.
Nor did the Academy expel European director Roman Polanski, accused of abusing minors, or actor-director Mel Gibson, who in 2006 while under the influence is said to have made some racist remarks against Jews and in 2010 was investigated for domestic violence.
The Weinstein scandal came to light in early October, when The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine revealed the history of sexual harassment perpetrated for decades by one of the best-known and most powerful producers in Hollywood.
He reached at least eight settlements with women between 1990 and 2015.
The list of actresses and models who suffered sexual abuse from Weinstein continues to grow and now numbers around 40.
When the story came out, Weinstein denied some of the allegations, but also admitted that he had behaved improperly at times during his career.