John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has denied recent allegations of sexual harassment in a memo sent to Academy staff members, according to multiple media reports.
Attempts to reach the Academy for comment were unsuccessful, but Variety — first to report the memo — said Bailey sent the letter on Friday, and The Wrap later said they had obtained the memo as well, which both trade publications shared on their websites.
According to a story in Variety published on March 16, the Academy received three harassment claims against Bailey two days earlier and immediately opened a probe.
In his memo Friday, Bailey denies much of that report.
“I have refrained from comment on the various media accounts about me of the past several days because I wanted to allow the Academy process to play out,” it begins. “However, in light of several repeated false stories, I feel compelled to set the record straight with those of you who work side by side with me on behalf of the Academy. The media reports describing multiple complaints made to the Academy about me are false and have served only to tarnish my 50-year career.”
The memo does acknowledge one incident, “…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.”
No other details about the nature of the allegations have been released. The Academy had earlier declined to elaborate on the original allegations, citing confidentiality issues.
“The Academy treats any complaints confidentially to protect all parties,” its statement read. “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. We will not comment further on such matters until the full review is completed.”
Bailey, 75, who was elected to a four-year-term as president in August to replace Cheryl Boone Isaacs, is a cinematographer and occasional director. He has nearly 90 films to his credit including “The Big Chill,” “Groundhog Day,” “Ordinary People” and “As Good As It Gets.”
The investigation comes in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements against sexual harassment and inequality. Disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein was thrown out of the Academy last year in light of the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him.
In December, the Academy established a code of conduct, which provides that members may be disciplined or expelled for abuse, harassment or discrimination. The organization also set up a claims process, which set forth how such allegations would be adjudicated.