Kevin Spacey faces court over 1980s sex complaint

Kevin Spacey faces court over 1980s sex complaint

US actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the Old Bailey in London on July 14, 2022 to appear in court over four counts of sexual assault
US actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the Old Bailey in London on July 14, 2022 to appear in court over four counts of sexual assault

NEW YORK: Kevin Spacey was to appear in a New York court Thursday to face a civil lawsuit brought by US actor Anthony Rapp, who has accused the disgraced Hollywood star of sexual misconduct towards him when he was 14.

The two-time Oscar-winning star of the stage, cinema and television -- whose full name is Kevin Spacey Fowler -- has disappeared from public view since he became one of the first performers to be caught up in the freshly minted #MeToo movement in October 2017.

Rapp, who currently stars in the "Star Trek: Discovery" series, turns 51 this month. He filed a complaint in September 2020 against Spacey for advances and an alleged sexual assault at a party in Manhattan in 1986.

Rapp was 14 years old at the time, while Spacey -- now 63 -- was almost twice his age.

- Global fame -

Spacey, who built his worldwide fame since the 1980s in movies such as "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty" and on the Netflix hit "House of Cards," has always denied allegations of sexual abuse.

The #MeToo movement exploded in October 2017, when more than 80 women in the movie industry accused -- and ultimately brought down -- the previously untouchable producer Harvey Weinstein.

At the end of the month, Rapp accused Spacey for the first time, in great detail, in an interview with BuzzFeed News.

The next day, on Twitter, Spacey presented his "sincerest apology" to Rapp for any "deeply inappropriate drunken behavior," saying he did not recall the incident.

After a 2020 criminal charge of sexual assault was dismissed by a judge, Rapp filed a civil suit that will see Spacey in a Manhattan courtroom starting Thursday at 9:30 am (1330 GMT), in a case to be heard by a jury and presided over by Judge Lewis Kaplan.

- 'An impartial jury' -

"Mr Spacey will appear Thursday and throughout the trial. We look forward to his vindication by an impartial jury," his lawyer Jennifer Keller told AFP in an email.

If found guilty, Spacey faces significant damages.

Kaplan had dropped Rapp's initial charge of sexual assault, ruling it had been brought too late and was not covered by a New York state law on child protection, implemented in 2019.

However, the judge acknowledged that during the party in 1986, Spacey had grazed the 14-year-old boy's buttocks, lifted him onto a bed and laid partially on top of him while fully clothed.

During his testimony 35 years after the incident, Rapp agreed there had been "no kissing, no undressing, no reaching under clothes, and no sexualized statements or innuendo," during an incident that had lasted no more than two minutes.

Spacey has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault of three men between March 2005 and April 2013 in Britain, and in 2019 charges against the actor of indecent assault and sexual assault were dropped in Massachusetts.

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