Kevin Spacey cleared of sexual assault charges brought by Anthony Rapp

The former House of Cards frontman had his career upended as a result of the 2017 #MeToo movement, which led to several men accusing Spacey of sexual assault.

Kevin Spacey speaks at a microphone.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, October 20, disgraced Hollywood star Kevin Spacey defeated a sexual abuse claim against him, brought by fellow actor Anthony Rapp. After a three-week trial, a Manhattan jury delivered its verdict following under two hours of deliberation.

The lawsuit, which sought $40 million in damages, was launched based on claims made in 2017. Spacey was sued in November 2020 for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress after Rapp accused the Academy Award-winning star of making an unwanted sexual advance toward him in 1986 when both parties were relatively unknown Broadway actors.

The accuser, now 50, was just 14 years-old at the time of the alleged incident, claiming that the former House of Cards frontman had climbed on top of him on a bed and pressed his groin into his hip until he was able to wriggle free. Spacey denied the allegations, saying that he had never been alone with Rapp.

Both men testified over several days during the trial. In Thursday’s closing arguments, Rapp’s lawyer Richard Steigman accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand, and urged jurors to make him pay for his actions.

“He lacks credibility,” Steigman stated. “Sometimes the simple truth is the best. The simple truth is that this happened.”

On the other hand, Spacey’s lawyer, Jennifer Keller, told the court that Rapp made up the encounter, suggesting he did so for attention, or because he was jealous of the actor’s success.

When the verdict was read, Spacey dropped his head before hugging his legal team and others, and leaving the courtroom. 

Rapp responded to the outcome on social media, with a statement reading: “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have my case heard before a jury, and I thank the members of the jury for their service.”

He pledged to continue to advocate for “a world that is free from sexual violence” and said he hopes that “survivors continue to tell their stories and fight for accountability.”

Spacey, now 63, had his career upended as a result of the 2017 #MeToo movement. Several men made claims against the US actor, and although Rapp’s case was unsuccessful, the accused will face a criminal trial in London next year for five sex offence charges spanning from 2005 to 2013.

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