WASHINGTON – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted overwhelmingly Saturday to expel major Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein after actresses came forward with numerous sexual harassment and assault allegations.
“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 willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” the Academy’s board of governors said.
“What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society,” added the board of the Academy, the institution that awards the Oscars and which includes such movie icons as Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg and Steven Spielberg.
According to the statement, Academy members held a vote Saturday and, with a majority in excess of the two-thirds required, decided to expel Harvey Weinstein from the Academy, where artists who are chosen traditionally become lifetime members.
Weinstein’s expulsion signifies an important break with precedent for the Academy, which for years insisted that someone’s professional achievements are 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.
Nor did the Academy expel European director Roman Polanski, accused of abusing minors, or actor-director Mel Gibson, who in 2006 whle 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 newspaper 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.
The list of actresses and models who suffered sexual abuse from Weinstein continues to grow and now numbers around 40.