Roman Polanski's expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year was "improper" and "invalid," the Oscar-winning filmmaker said in a lawsuit he filed Friday seeking to be reinstated.
"The Academy's actions, sanctions, and decision against (Polanski) are invalid ... on the grounds that the Academy failed to grant Petitioner any notice and a fair hearing," the lawsuit asserts.
"The Academy committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion in that the Academy failed to proceed in the manner required by law, the expulsion decision is not supported by the findings, and the findings are not supported by the evidence."
Polanski wants a judge to order the academy to set aside its expulsion decision and reinstate Polanski as a member in good standing.
Polanski was ejected from the organization that hands out the Oscars in May 2018, after four decades as a member, one Oscar and multiple nominations over the years.
At the same time, the academy expelled Bill Cosby, one week after the comedian was convicted of three sex crimes in Pennsylvania.
Polanski, now 85, pleaded guilty to statutory rape in a plea bargain in 1978, 10 years after he joined the academy, and remained a member despite being a fugitive from U.S. justice ever since. Restricted to living in France, Switzerland or his native Poland, Polanski has been unable to return to the U.S., including when he won the best-director Oscar for "The Pianist" in 2003.
The academy notified Polanski of his ouster in a two-paragraph letter, a copy of which was included in the lawsuit.
"The (board of governors) continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy's values of respect for human dignity, and is categorically opposed to any form of abuse or harassment," the letter said.
There was no explanation in the letter for why the academy had not ejected Polanski following his guilty plea to a sex crime and his flight decades before. The academy's public statement at the time also did not elaborate on why it waited until 2018 to act against Polanski.
The Academy responded to Polanski's lawsuit with a brief statement released to the Associated Press Friday.
“The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate," the statement read.
Polanski's lawsuit echoes some of the same arguments made by his lawyer, Harlan Braun, at the time of his expulsion: that the academy's own rules should have allowed for Polanski to make his case against expulsion, and Braun was preparing to do so when the academy acted.
"We suspected something might be happening, and we were totally prepared, I've got all the documents, I could have presented them in less than an hour," Braun told USA TODAY in a phone interview from Boston at the time.
Polanski's lawsuit puts his arguments in legalese, asserting that the academy's policies required it to provide "reasonable notice" of any adverse action against a member, and failure to follow these rules in expelling him without notice violates the California corporations code.
Braun also has represented Polanski in his long-running, and so far unsuccessful, effort to get the Los Angeles District Attorney's office to drop its case to extradite Polanski from France, where he mostly lives, to Los Angeles to serve the few months remaining on his sentence in the statutory rape case, and to pay a price for fleeing California justice for so many decades.
Besides Polanski and Cosby, at least two others are known to have been expelled from the academy, including fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was kicked out in October 2017; he is now being prosecuted on sex-crimes charges in New York.
Actor Carmine Caridi was expelled in 2004 for copyright infringement after he was accused of leaking screeners.
It is not clear whether anyone has ever sued the academy to be reinstated or been successful.
The academy did not respond to a message from USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Roman Polanski sues Oscars academy seeking reinstatement after 'improper' expulsion