Kevin Spacey faces New York jury in sexual assault court caseon October 7, 2022 at 10:02 am

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The House of Cards stars is accused of a sexual assault in 1986, which he denies.

Kevin SpaceyImage source, Reuters

Kevin Spacey appeared in a New York court on Thursday to face an accusation by fellow actor Anthony Rapp that he was sexually abused by the actor as a minor.

Star Trek: Discovery star Rapp, now 50, filed a complaint against Spacey in 2020, for advances and an alleged sexual assault at a party in Manhattan in 1986, when he was 14.

The House of Cards star, 63, has always denied the allegation.

Rapp is seeking $40m (£36m) in damages.

During opening arguments in the case, presided over by Judge Lewis Kaplan, Rapp’s lawyer Peter Saghir told a jury of six men and six women that Spacey, then in his late 20s, committed “unacceptable” acts against his then-teenaged client, “intentionally to satisfy the drive of his sexual desires”.

The alleged assault, at Spacey’s New York apartment, “never should have happened”, Mr Saghir continued. “He was 14-years-old.”

Spacey, who went on to star in films like The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, has kept a fairly low profile since the allegation, which emerged in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which highlighted widespread abuse in the film industry.

Last month, Rapp spoke about his accusation in an interview with BuzzFeed News.

Spacey responded online, offering his “sincerest apology” to Rapp for any “deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour”, saying he did not recall the alleged incident.

Rapp filed a civil lawsuit after a 2020 criminal charge of sexual assault was dismissed by a judge.

Anthony Rapp

Image source, Getty Images

According to court documents, Rapp claims that during the party 35 years ago, Spacey lifted him up and that his hand “grazed” his buttocks. He claims Spacey then placed him back down on a bed and “briefly placed his own clothed body partially beside and partially across” his own.

He told the court there had been “no kissing, no undressing, no reaching under clothes, and no sexualised statements or innuendo,” during the alleged incident which lasted no more than two minutes.

His lawyer said Spacey’s behaviour was “wrong and frankly unacceptable.” “This was not horseplay,” he added.

Spacey’s own lawyer Jennifer Keller, however, told the jury that such an assault “never happened at all”.

She noted how down the years, Rapp had “repeated the same false story [but] never repeated it to the police”, arguing he had done so for “attention [and] sympathy” because he never became an international star.

Ms Keller previously told AFP in an email: “We look forward to his vindication by an impartial jury.”

The trial is expected to last for two weeks, and, if found guilty, Spacey faces significant damages.

In August, a judge ordered Spacey to pay House of Cards producers $31m (£25.5m) for the costs involved in removing him from the series following a string of allegations of sexual misconduct.

He appeared at the Old Bailey in London in July to “strenuously” deny allegations of sexual assault by three other men, dating back 17 years to when Spacey was artistic director at The Old Vic theatre.

A trial will take place in June 2023, with a pre-hearing expected to take place early next year.

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