In a break with tradition, last year's Best Actor winner will not be presenting the Best Actress award at this year's Oscars. Casey Affleck's win last year for Manchester by the Sea was controversial because of past accusations of sexual harassment, and sources tell Deadline that he decided to drop out because he "did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category." Affleck denied accusations in 2010 that he sexually harassed producer Amanda White and director of photography Magdalena Gorka on the set of I'm Still Here, though he settled with them out of court for an undisclosed sum, the Independent reports.
A rep for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed Affleck's withdrawal Thursday, saying they "appreciate the decision to keep the focus on the show and on the great work of this year," Variety reports. An Affleck rep says he will not be attending the ceremony at all this year. After last year's controversy, Affleck said both sides in the case are banned from commenting on it. He added that he believes "any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent." Almost 20,000 people signed a petition at Care2 urging the Academy not to let Affleck present the award. (Read more Casey Affleck stories.)