A federal jury in the sexual assault trial of Kevin Spacey found the Oscar-winning actor not liable for the battery against Anthony Rapp’s “Star Trek: Discovery star.”
The jury of five men and six women deliberated for less than 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon. Rapp appeared demure when the verdict was read, and his lawyers looked frustrated as they left the courtroom in midtown Manhattan.
Spacey dropped his head after the verdict was announced and then stood up to hug his lawyer.
“I am very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” Spacey’s attorney, Jennifer Keeler, said outside the courtroom. Surrounded by his bodyguards, Spacey didn’t say anything outside before getting into and driving a black SUV.
In a statement posted on Twitter,Raab said he was “extremely grateful for the opportunity to present my case to a jury, and I thank the members of the jury for their service.”
“The filing of this lawsuit has always been a highlight, as part of a larger movement to stand against all forms of sexual violence,” Raab said, pledging to continue advocating for “a world free of sexual violence of any kind.”
“Anthony told his truth in court. While we respect the jury’s verdict, nothing changes that,” Richard Stegmann, Rapp’s attorney who provided closing arguments on Thursday, said in a statement.
In the early days of the #MeToo movement, Rapp was one of the most prominent people to bring allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey, disrupting his career on screen and stage.
Rapp alleged that Spacey climbed on top of him at a New York City party in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Rapper, who is best known for his role in the musical “Rent”, testified that the alleged encounter was the “most shocking one” of his life.
Spacey categorically denied Rapp’s allegations, saying under oath that they were “not true”. His attorneys argued that Rapper “created a story” in large part because he was jealous of their client’s success in the entertainment industry.
In closing arguments earlier on Thursday, the actors’ lawyers gave wildly divergent accounts of events.
Stegman suggested that Spacey made a jury presentation on the witness stand and insisted that his client was still traumatized by the alleged encounter decades later.
Keeler dismissed Rappe’s allegations as lies and argued that the younger actor was jealous of his client’s career success.
Both men gave tearful testimonies on the witness stand.
Rapp resisted his tears and spoke with a painful expression as he recalled the details of the alleged encounter which he described as “very frightening and very disturbing”. He testified that he felt inspired to publish his allegations in the fall of 2017.
“I didn’t ask him to do that,” he told jurors, referring to Spacey’s alleged sexual advances. “I didn’t want him to do that.”
Spacey, for his part, broke down in tears repeatedly during his testimony. In a trembling voice, he told jurors of his “humiliating and frightening” upbringing as the son of a man he described as a “white supremacist and neo-Nazi.”
“I have never talked about these things in public,” he said.
Raab sued Spacey in 2020 based on three allegations: assault, battery, and intentional emotional distress.
Judge Louis A. Kaplan dismissed the pretrial assault allegation, saying it was not covered by the 2019 New York Child Victims Act, which temporarily allowed people to file claims that would normally have been barred under statute of limitations.
Kaplan threw Rappe’s allegation into emotional distress on the sixth day of the trial, saying in part that he “repeats and repeats” the allegation of beatings.
Raab, who has claimed to have shared his experience with friends over the years, first publicly detailed his claims in an article published by BuzzFeed News on October 29, 2017.
Spacey’s response to the allegations
In a statement on Twitter The next day, Spacey said he had no recollection of the alleged incident but apologized to Raab for “what would have been highly inappropriate drunken behaviour”. Then he came out, writing in part: “I now choose to live as a gay man.”
In his testimony, Spacey said he regretted that statement, explaining that he now believes he shouldn’t have apologized for something he insists he didn’t do.
“I learned a lesson: Never apologize for something you didn’t do,” Spacey told the jury. “I fully regret my statement.”
He said his publicity team encouraged him to take the allegations seriously because they were concerned about permanent damage to his career and reputation. In return, he chose to take it “seriously but not realistically”.
“I had no belief that this had happened,” Spacey said emphatically.
Spacey also lamented that he used the statement as an opportunity to go out to the general public.
“I wouldn’t do anything to hurt the gay community,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes. He explained that he had been criticized for appearing to confuse his sexual orientation with the allegations: “It was a mistake, it was really bad, and I’m so sorry.”
Duel novels of events
Rap and Spacey agreed that they met each other sometime in April 1986, when they were starring in Broadway shows – rap with Ed Harris in “Precious Sons”, Spacey with Jack Lemmon in the production of “Long Journey into the Night.”
The two saw each other again during a casual meeting in Lemon’s dressing room sometime in May. That night, Spacey took rap and rap friend John Barrow to a restaurant and nightclub. Spacey testified that he felt attracted to Barrowman, who was 19 years old at the time.
“John Barrowman captured me,” Spacey said.
Spacey testified that he invited Rapp and Barrowman back to his apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side after the club to show them his dog and show them the views from his place. He said he and Barrowman had a brief “flirt and playful” moment on a bed that had been cut because Rapp was nearby.
Rapp alleged that sometime after that evening, Spacey invited him to a party at his apartment. Rapp testified that he did not recognize anyone at the party, so he went to a bedroom to watch TV.
He testified that at one point a seemingly drunk Spacey entered the bedroom and lifted him up and laid him on a bed and put his entire weight on top of him.
Spacey responded forcefully to that version of events, saying in his testimony that he never invited Rapp to a party or even spoke to him again after their evening with Barrowman, who is now famous in the UK for his role on the show “Doctor Who.”
Spacey’s attorneys presented evidence that they said supported their client’s denial, including documents showing that at the time of the alleged incident, he was living in a studio apartment that did not have a bedroom.
One of Spacey’s attorneys, Jennifer Keeler, sought to convince the jury that Rapp was bitter not only because of Spacey’s success in Hollywood, but also for being “the third wheel” during the evening with Barrowman. Raab rejected this suggestion.
Rap, 50, is a regular on the Paramount + series “Star Trek: Discovery” and has appeared in films such as “Dazed and Confused” and “A Beautiful Mind”. Spacey, 63, won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty,” and earned a Tony for “Lost in Yonkers.”
Spacey played a fictional boss on the Netflix drama “House of Cards” before a wave of sexual misconduct allegations in 2017 led to him being fired from the show and abruptly halting his famous Hollywood career.
Additional Legal Issues
Spacey’s legal troubles do not end in New York.
In the UK, he has been facing accusations of sexually assaulting three men for a decade or more. He pleaded not guilty in July at a hearing at the Central Criminal Court in London. He is expected to stand trial in the UK from June 6, according to the Associated Press.
Kaplan, the judge in Spacey’s civil trial, did not allow Raab’s lawyer to speak on the UK case. However, Rappe’s lawyers got a chance to question Andy Holtzman, a former employee of the Manhattan Public Theatre, who Spacey allegedly assaulted there in 1981.
Spacey has denied this claim.
Separately, a Los Angeles judge ruled in August that Spacey and his companies must pay nearly $31 million to the producers behind “House of Cards” for losses he incurred after being fired for alleged sexual harassment of crew members, according to court documents.
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