Kevin Spacey found ‘not liable’ in sexual battery lawsuit

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Carla Paz, Staff Writer

Content warning: This article discusses details of sexual assault and battery.

A jury found actor Kevin Spacey not liable for battery against actor Anthony Rapp n Oct. 20. Spacey was accused of having climbed on top of Rapp at a party in 1986 when Rapp was 14 years old and Spacey was 26. The jury deliberated for under 90 minutes before announcing the verdict.

As the verdict was being read, Rapp was stoic while Spacey stood up with tears in his eyes and hugged his lawyers. Later on Twitter, Rapp posted a statement in which he said he was “deeply grateful” for having this case being heard before a jury.

At the beginning of the #MeToo movement in 2017, Rapp, most known for his role as Mark Cohen in the musical “Rent,” accused Spacey of making sexual advances toward him in 1986. Rapp and his friend, John Barrowman, 19 at the time, were invited to go to a house party hosted by Spacey. Rapp wandered into a bedroom to watch TV. He turned to see Spacey standing at the bedroom door visibly intoxicated. Spacey then picked him up bridal style, placed Rapp on the bed and climbed on top of him. In the Buzzfeed article where Rapp details his experience, Rapp said, “I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.” Rapp managed to push Spacey off of him and hide in the bathroom before leaving Spacey’s apartment. Prior to parting, Rapp alleged that Spacey said, “Are you sure you want to go?”

Since Rapp came forward, over 30 men have also come forward with allegations against Spacey. Spacey responded with an apology statement towards Rapp, a claim including that he did not remember the incident and also officially coming out as gay. As a result of these accusations, Spacey was fired from the Netflix show “House of Cards,” where he played the lead role of Francis Underwood, was forced to pay $31 million to the studio for breach of contract and was also let go by his talent agency and publicist. In the years following, Spacey mostly retreated from the public eye albeit for a few videos posted to Twitter where he defended himself.

In 2020, Rapp, along with an anonymous victim, filed a civil sexual assault lawsuit against Spacey to seek damages for emotional distress. The lawsuit was filed under the New York Child Victims Act, which gives victims of child sexual abuse “the opportunity to file a civil claim against the individual who hurt them and the institution responsible, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.”

Spacey denied the allegations and attempted to dismiss the civil suit, but the judge rejected this. The anonymous accuser’s case was dismissed because he wanted to stay anonymous during the trial, but Rapp continued forward, which led to both Spacey and Rapp testifying before the jury with their respective versions of events.

In court, Rapp told the jury, “I knew something was really wrong,” when describing what he allegedly experienced. Spacey’s lawyers fought back by alleging that Rapp made these claims up for publicity and jealousy. “While Anthony Rapp has made a living as an actor, a working actor, which is not an easy thing to do, he never became the international star that Kevin Spacey is, who could play almost any role,” Spacey’s lawyer Jennifer Keller said. Rapp denied being motivated by jealousy and said that his stance was to seek justice for himself.

During cross-examination, Rapp admitted that certain details about the encounter could have been mistaken, such as details about which bedroom the incident took place in. In Spacey’s testimony, he said that he regrets ever posting his apology and that his publicist pressured him to post it. He stated, “I’ve learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something you didn’t do. I regret my entire statement.”

In Spacey’s account of the night, he recounted that he was not interested in Rapp, but instead, he was interested in Barrowman. Spacey stated that he placed Barrowman onto the bed, but both he and Barrowman sat upright once Rapp came back from the bathroom because they thought he was too young to see them in a compromising position. During the testimony, Spacey said, “I had no interest in Mr. Rapp joining us.” In a deposition, Barrowman recalled the night as Spacey had. 

Spacey still has more legal battles not only in New York but in the United Kingdom as well. In the UK, Spacey has been charged with sexually assaulting three men a decade ago, which he pleads not guilty to. The trial will take place on June 6, 2023.