The academy award winner Kevin Spacey appeared in court on January 7 to face a charge of indecent assault and battery stemming from an allegation of groping in 2016. He is accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old male after plying him with alcohol at a bar in Nantucket in 2016. A not-guilty plea was entered on the two-time Oscar winner’s behalf by his lawyers during the hearing in the US state of Massachusetts.
The alleged victim is the son of former Boston local television news presenter Heather Unruh, who spoke publicly about the case last year. She accused Mr Spacey of buying her then 18-year-old son alcohol – the drinking age in Massachusetts is 21 – and then groping him.
This is not the first time Spacey has been accused of a sexual misconduct allegation. In October 2017, Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of sexual misconduct dating back to 1986, when Rapp was just 14. He claimed Spacey invited him to a party at his New York apartment and, while drunk, tried to seduce him by climbing on top of him. Mr Spacey said he had no memory of the event, but publicly apologized before issuing an “absolute” denial of all other allegations. In September last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said Mr Spacey would not be prosecuted over an accusation of sexual assault that allegedly took place in 1992 because it fell outside of California’s statute of limitations.
Talking about the recent allegation, Mr Spacey was mobbed by media as he arrived at the packed courtroom of Nantucket on Monday after arriving by private jet. His legal team argued he shouldn’t have to appear in person, because of the negative publicity that’s already surrounded this case. But the actor who’s spent so much of his working life in front of the cameras found it impossible today to avoid them. He entered by a side entrance, outfoxing some of the camera operators and photographers who had staked out positions over the weekend, but by no means all of them.
A lawyer for Spacey – whose legal name is Kevin S Fowler had earlier asked the judge to allow the hearing to happen without the defendant present, but that request was refused. According to prosecutors, the teenager told police that the actor had groped him as they stood together at a piano. He told police that he had a video of the incident, and had sent a clip via the Snapchat app to his girlfriend.
Mr Spacey’s legal team said the video does not prove his guilt. During Monday’s hearing, his lawyer successfully argued the alleged victim must not delete the material from his phone.
The controversy has led to the actor being axed from a number of roles, including the Netflix series House of Cards and the 2017 film All the Money in the World, which was re-shot without him.
On Christmas Eve, Mr Spacey posted a video contesting the allegations against him. In the clip titled “Let Me Be Frank”, Mr Spacey appeared as his character Frank Underwood from House of Cards, and said: “I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the thing I didn’t do.”
The video has been repeatedly described as “bizarre,” with good reason. Wearing a Santa apron and occasionally sipping from a mug, Spacey seems to inhabit his House of Cards character, Frank Underwood, saying things such as, “We’re not done, no matter what anyone says.”
As far as the court hearing went, he was released without having to pay bail after a 10-minute hearing. The judge scheduled the next court date for 4 March. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.