TW: sexual assault allegation detail
Kevin Spacey did not sexually abuse actor Anthony Rapp in the 1980s, jury finds
A New York jury has found actor Kevin Spacey not liable for battery in allegations made by Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp.
House of Cards star Spacy found himself being sued in civil court following claims he sexually abused Rapp after a house party in the 1980s.
Rapp, now 50, had been 14 at the time of the alleged incident, and Spacey was 26.
Rap claimed Spacey invited him back to his Manhattan home, where he picked Rapp up, laid him down on his bed, grabbed his buttocks and proceeded to press his groin into Rapp’s body without his consent, until he was able to wriggle free.
Rapp said the alleged incident was “the most traumatic single event” of his life and was seeking $40m in damages from Spacey.
Spacey flatly denied the allegations, saying under oath that “they are not true.” While Rapp accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand.
Spacey’s lawyers argued that Rapp “created a story”, which was, in-part, motivated by jealousy over the accused’s success in the entrainment industry.
“Mr Rapp is getting more attention in this trial than he has in his entire acting life,” Jennifer Keller, a lawyer for Spacey, argued.
Both actors gave emotional testimonies, over several days, during the three-week trial.
Reports say that, at one point, Rapp fought back tears as he described the encounter, calling it “incredibly frightening and very alarming.”
“I didn’t ask for him to do that,” he told jurors. “I didn’t want him to do that.”
The judge had dismissed Rapp’s claim of assault before the trial started and then dismissed his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress after Rapp’s attorneys rested his case, leaving the jury only to decide only the claim of battery.
Under New York law, the criterion for battery is touching another person without their consent, in a way that a reasonable person would find offensive.
Deliberations lasted for more than an hour and, after the verdict was read out by the judge, Spacey reportedly hugged his lawyers before leaving the courtroom.
“We are very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” Keller, one of his attorneys, said while leaving court. Spacey did not address reporters personally.
After allegations about Spacey first began to surface in 2017, he found himself essentially ‘cancelled’ in Hollywood, with Netflix sensationally dropping him from House of Cards and his character being digitally exercised from Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, in which he was replaced by actor Christopher Plummer.
Spacey still faces sexual assault charges in the U.K. – for which he has also entered a plea of not guilty – dating back up to 17 years.
The alleged offences are said to have taken place in London and Gloucestershire between 2005 and 2013, when the actor was artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London.
Head of the CPS special crime division, Rosemary Ainslie, said at the time: “The CPS has authorised criminal charges against Kevin Spacey, 62, for four counts of sexual assault against three men.”
“He has also been charged with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent. The charges follow a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan police in its investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Spacey are active and that he has the right to a fair trial.”
Spacey addressed the charges in a statement to Good Morning America:
“I very much appreciate the [Crown Prosecution’s] statement in which they carefully reminded the media and the public that I am entitled to a fair trial, and innocent until proven otherwise.”
The trial is scheduled to begin in June next year.