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Oscars chief John Bailey under investigation for alleged sexual harassment

John Bailey, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body which hands out the Oscars, is being currently investigated for alleged sexual harassment.

The sources said the Academy immediately called for an investigation after receiving three harassment claims against Bailey last week.

John Bailey, 75, a famous cinematographer whose well known credits include ‘Groundhog Day and The Big Chill’, was elected for a four-year term as head of the Academy.

His brief tenure has been marked by the birth of the #MeToo movement started by actress Alyssa Milano and which went globally viral. The movement became a rapid trend everywhere, especially on social media, highlighting accusations of sexual abuse. Allegations of sexual misconduct have simultaneously risen against over 50 powerful men in the entertainment industry, including bold-faced names like Kevin Spacey, Russell Simmons and Steven Seagal. The fallout has been massive. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office set up a special unit to investigate criminal behavior in the industry; heads of companies have stepped away, showrunners have been fired. According to a recent study, 94% of women who work in Hollywood have experienced sexual harassment.

Harvey Weinstein, whose studio Miramax was behind hits such as ‘Shakespeare In Love’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’, was expelled from the Academy in October because of the accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of dozens of women.

In December, the Academy also adopted a code of conduct for its members.

In January, the Academy released new procedures for handling complaints and evaluating its membership. In an email to members, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson stated the group won’t “initiate” investigations, but “substantiated” claims will looked into.

Ultimately, the governing body will decide whether to take no action or notify the member in question, giving the person a 10-day window to respond.

There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” wrote Hudson at that event. Members who violate the Academy’s new code of conduct may be subject to disciplinary action “including suspension or expulsion”, he said.

Later in February, during a lunch for this year’s Oscar nominees, Bailey promised that the Academy would adopt a “greater awareness and responsibility in balancing gender, race, ethnicity, and religion.”

In a statement released last Friday afternoon, the Academy did not specify allegations against Bailey, stating only that the governing body “treats any complaints confidentially to protect all parties. The Membership Committee reviews all complaints brought against Academy members according to our Standards of Conduct process, and after completing reviews, reports to the Board of Governors.”

The Academy stated there will be no further comment until “the full review is completed.” However, no time duration was suggested.

Various reports suggest if he were forced to step down, he would be temporarily replaced by Lois Burwell, a veteran makeup artist who is the Academy’s vice president, until the next election in July.

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