Academy President John Bailey Cleared of Harassment Complaint

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John Bailey

In a statement on Tuesday night, the organization said, "The Committee unanimously determined that no further action was merited on this matter."

A complaint of sexual harassment that had been brought against John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has been dismissed, and he will continue to serve as the organization's president.

In a statement on Tuesday night, the organization said, "The Committee unanimously determined that no further action was merited on this matter. The findings and recommendations of the committee were reported to the Board, which endorsed its recommendation. John Bailey remains President of the Academy."

The statement referred to an investigation undertaken by the Academy's membership committee following a complaint of sexual harassment that had been lodged against the Academy president. While the Academy said "it took the complaint very seriously," the committee "unanimously agreed that no further action was merited on this matter" and passed its findings and recommendations on to the full board of governors, which endorsed its conclusions.

Bailey, 75, was elected to his first one-year term as president Aug. 8 by the Academy’s 54-member board of governors. Previously he had represented the cinematographers branch of the organization for more than a decade. As a cinematographer, his credits include Ordinary People (1980) and The Big Chill (1983), among many other titles. His wife, Oscar-nominated film editor Carol Littleton, is also on the Academy's board of governors, representing the editors branch. 

Earlier this month, it was reported that three sexual harassment complaints had been filed against Bailey. The Academy said Tuesday that those reports of three claims were incorrect, saying, "there was only one claim under consideration, which was received on Tuesday, March 13, 2018."

That one claim quickly became one of the first tests of the Academy's new code of conduct and procedures for its enforcement. The Academy adopted the code of conduct for its members in December, following its expulsion of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, and it then adopted new procedures to handle allegations of workplace misconduct in January.

While the Academy did not disclose the nature of the allegation against Bailey when those first press reports appeared, it said at the time that, per the new procedures, the matter would be treated confidentially and had been referred to its membership committee, headed by casting director David Rubin, which began a review on March 14. That committee, in turn, was expected to submit a report to the full board of governors at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting that was held Tuesday.

In the meantime, Bailey hired attorney David Schindler, a Los Angeles-based partner at Latham & Watkins, who formerly co-chaired the firm's white collar defense and civil litigation practice. He also issued a March 24 memo to the Academy’s staff in which he said the media reports were “false and have served only to tarnish my 50-year career.”

Bailey continued in the memo, “There was a single named complaint regarding an allegation dating back more than a decade ago in which I am alleged to have to attempted to touch a woman inappropriately while we were both riding in a transport van on a movie set. That did not happen.”

He went on to say, “While I cannot undo the damage of having a false narrative leaked to the press I expect the committee will undertake its obligation to review this matter faithfully. Because I know the facts, I expect they will conclude that there is no basis to take any action against me. While there have been well-documented instances of individuals in this industry not treating women with respect, I am not one of them. I care deeply about women’s issues and support equal treatment and access for all individuals working in this profession. I am proud to serve as president of the Academy and am committed to carrying on the important work the board elected me to do.”

Read the Academy's full letter regarding Bailey below.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that it has concluded its review, based on its Standards of Conduct, into the allegation made against Academy President John Bailey. The Membership and Administration Committee and its sub-committee thoroughly reviewed and considered the claim, John Bailey’s response, and corroborating statements from both parties. The Academy took the claim very seriously and was cognizant of the rights of both the claimant and the accused, including consulting with outside counsel with expertise in matters related to harassment.

Contrary to previous reports, there was only one claim under consideration which was received on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Throughout the process, the Academy received advice and counsel from its longstanding General Counsel John Quinn at Quinn Emanuel, as well as from Ivy Kagan Bierman, a partner at Loeb & Loeb who has extensive experience with entertainment industry sexual harassment matters and is currently an advisor to The Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Promoting Equality in the Workplace, chaired by Anita Hill.

The Committee unanimously determined that no further action was merited on this matter. The findings and recommendations of the committee were reported to the Board, which endorsed its recommendation. John Bailey remains President of the Academy.

The Academy respects the confidentiality of both the claimant and John Bailey, and will refrain from discussing the specifics regarding the claim.

The Academy’s goal is to encourage workplace environments that support creativity, equality, and respect.

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