Motion Picture Academy Finds No Merit to Accusations Against Its President
LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences concluded on Tuesday that an allegation of sexual harassment against its president had no merit, in the first test of new guidelines that the powerful Hollywood industry group enacted after a wave of accusations of inappropriate behavior rocked the entertainment industry.
In a statement released after its regularly scheduled board meeting, the academy said that an internal investigation into allegations levied against John Bailey, who was elected as president of the group in August, had determined that “no further action was merited.”
Mr. Bailey, a cinematographer with credits ranging from “Ordinary People” in 1980 to “How to Be a Latin Lover” last year, had no immediate comment. He had previously disputed the allegations.
The investigation focused on a claim submitted on March 13 by a woman who said Mr. Bailey, 75, attempted to touch her inappropriately while riding in a van on a movie set roughly a decade ago. The academy has not released the woman’s name.
The film organization never used to police the behavior of members. But the academy voted in October to oust Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer who became a public symbol of pervasive sexual harassment in the movie industry after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment and other misconduct. After that, it decided to establish a code of conduct and procedures for investigating allegations of misconduct.
In its statement, the academy said it took the accusation seriously. The review was headed by the person who unsuccessfully ran against Mr. Bailey for the organization’s presidency: David Rubin, a casting director who leads the academy’s membership and administration committee.
The inquiry also included input from Ivy Kagan Bierman, a lawyer who is involved with the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, a Hollywood initiative. That effort is headed by Anita Hill, the lawyer and academic who in 1991 said Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice, who was then a nominee for that post, had made inappropriate sexual suggestions to her.
In a memo sent to academy staff on Friday, Mr. Bailey denied the allegation and said the academy had failed to adhere to at least part of the procedures put in place to evaluate complaints — anonymity for both accuser and accused, at least while an investigation is completed.
“The fact that the existence of an allegation even became public thwarts the confidential review process that the academy adopted and is supposed to follow when receiving complaints,” Mr. Bailey said in the memo, referring to a report on the accusation in the trade publication Variety on March 16.
Mr. Bailey had been elected to a one-year term by the organization’s 54-member board, which includes luminaries like Steven Spielberg and Whoopi Goldberg. The position of president is largely ceremonial, as the academy has a chief executive who runs the organization day to day.
Mr. Bailey was an unlikely first test of the academy’s new system for investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. Roman Polanski, the director who pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 and who fled the country afterward, remains an academy member. So does Bill Cosby, the comedian, who has been accused of sexual assault.