Kevin Spacey is on trial in the US accused of sexual misconduct – but not on criminal charges | Ents & Arts News
Kevin Spacey is currently on trial in New York, accused of sexual misconduct – but there are no criminal charges involved.
The Hollywood star has been sued in a civil case by stage and screen actor Anthony Rapp over an alleged incident almost 40 years ago.
Following jury selection earlier in October the multimillion-dollar lawsuit trial is now under way, with Spacey, 63, attending the hearing at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
In a US civil case, any allegations only need to be proven “on the balance of probability” rather than to the criminal standard of “beyond all reasonable doubt”.
Proceedings are being presided over by Judge Lewis A Kaplan and are expected to last about two weeks in total. Here is everything you need to know so far.
The allegations against Spacey
Rapp, now 50, is accusing Spacey of sexual misconduct in 1986, when he was 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey has “categorically denied” the allegations.
The younger actor says he attended a party at Spacey’s apartment in Manhattan when he was acting in the Broadway play Precious Sons; Spacey was co-starring in another Broadway play, A Long Day’s Journey Into The Night, at the time.
Rapp claims that at the end of the party, a drunken Spacey picked him up, placed him on his bed and climbed on top of him, before he was able to get away and leave the apartment.
He filed the lawsuit in 2020 and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages up to $40m (about £35.9m).
After the allegations broke, Spacey was edited out of the already finished film All The Money In The World and replaced by Christopher Plummer as J Paul Getty. He was also sacked from the political drama series House Of Cards.
He is set to appear in upcoming films Peter Five Eight, a thriller, and the Franco Nero-directed drama The Man Who Drew God.
Who is Anthony Rapp?
Rapp was the first man to publicly accuse Spacey of inappropriate sexual advances, in an interview with BuzzFeed in October 2017.
A child actor who made his Broadway debut at 10, he appeared in shows including Six Degrees Of Separation, and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. He also had a breakout role starring as Mark Cohen in the original cast of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent.
Screen credits include Adventures In Babysitting, A Beautiful Mind, Dazed And Confused and currently the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Discovery.
What has Rapp said in court?
Speaking about the alleged incident, Rapp said: “I was frozen… I didn’t know what to do.”
He told the court that after he wandered into a bedroom to watch TV and get away from adults, an intoxicated-looking Spacey joined him after other guests had left.
Rapp said Spacey pressed the “full weight” of his chest and groin into him before he managed to leave.
Asked how he would respond to anyone downplaying the severity of what allegedly happened, he described himself as a frightened child trying to fend off a grown man.
He later told the court he went on to watch Spacey in many films.
“I’m an actor and I love films – these films were acclaimed and award-winning,” he said. “I felt it was part of my job to see them, I knew he was in them so I could prepare myself.
“I felt like it was my duty as a fellow actor, as a person, as part of this community – I had to push it aside.”
He has also denied telling the writer of the BuzzFeed article, Adam Vary, to “steer away from specificity” and said the alleged misconduct was “the most traumatic single event” of his life.
What has Spacey said?
The actor has “categorically denied” the accusations and says he “did not harbour any sexual interest or desire in Mr Rapp at the time or since” the incident.
Spacey’s attorneys said in a legal filing that Rapp’s “allegations are, quite simply, false and never occurred”.
Lawyer Jennifer L Keller suggested that Rapp filed the lawsuit because he is angry about his own career.
“He grew bitter about not getting parts as an openly gay man,” she said.
Spacey is yet to give evidence.
Who else has testified?
The first witness, a 68-year-old man, was called by lawyers for Rapp.
He told the court he was working in his office at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 1981 when Spacey entered and sat at a spare desk used by actors and others.
He claimed that Spacey walked over to him, sexually aroused, and grabbed him.
What else has been said in court so far?
TV presenter and actor John Barrowman has also been mentioned during the hearing, with the court told by Spacey’s lawyer that the actor flirted with the-then 19-year-old in 1986, but “nothing inappropriate” occurred.
Spacey invited the Torchwood star to his apartment along with Rapp, a high school friend, on another occasion before the alleged incident at the centre of the trial, the court was told.
Ms Keller said they had dinner and her client’s attention was on Barrowman throughout the evening.
She quoted part of a deposition by Barrowman, which has not yet been made public, that stated that after going back to Spacey’s apartment the pair had lain on the bed but did not engage in any sexual activity because of Rapp’s presence.
The trial continues.
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