Academy says Will Smith denied leaving the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences affirmed this afternoon, Wednesday, that he was asked to Will Smith that he left the Oscar ceremony on Sunday after slapping Chris Rock, but that he denied doing so.

The academy’s governing board met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations of the group’s rules of conduct. Likewise, that body said that disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

Many have focused on why Smith was allowed to sit ringside at the Academy Awards after the incident. However, the Academy indicated that it tried to withdraw the actor from the public.

“Things unfolded in a way that we couldn’t anticipate,” the academy said. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize that we could have handled the situation differently.”

An academy representative declined to elaborate on how it tried to remove Smith. After Smith hit Rock in response to a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett SmithSeveral stars, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry, spoke with the 53-year-old Smith.

The academy said Smith has a chance to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18. The Motion Picture Academy previously condemned Smith’s assault on Rock onstage, but used stronger language on Wednesday.

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Academy Awards were a deeply shocking and traumatic event to witness in person and on television,” the Academy said.

Rock, we apologize for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience at that time. We also apologize to our nominees, guests, and viewers for what occurred during what should have been a celebration event,” he added.

On Monday, Smith issued an apology to Rock, the academy and viewers, saying “I crossed the line and I was wrong.”

A representative for Smith did not immediately respond to messages Wednesday about the latest moves from the academy.

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Academy says Will Smith denied leaving the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock