Kevin Spacey appears in court on indecent assault charge

Lawyers enter not guilty plea over plying 18-year-old with alcohol and groping him in 2016

Former "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey has appeared in a Massachusetts court to face a criminal charge that he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man more than two years ago.

 

At a minutes-long arraignment on the ritzy Massachusetts island of Nantucket on Monday, Kevin Spacey did not seem to utter a word as he appeared before a judge alongside his lawyers.

The 59-year-old Oscar-winning actor is accused of groping a then 18-year-old man at the Club Car restaurant and bar on the island, in 2016.

The charge, of indecent assault and battery, is a felony. If convicted, Spacey would face a maximum of five years in prison. He would also have to register as a sex offender.

His lawyers entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and a pre-trial hearing was set for March 4th. Judge Thomas S Barrett said Spacey would not have to appear at that hearing, but that he must be available by phone during it. Spacey was also ordered to stay away from the alleged victim and his family.

The judge granted a request by Spacey’s attorneys to preserve the alleged victim’s cellphone data for six months after the date of the alleged assault. Spacey attorney Alan Jackson said there was data within that would be “likely exculpatory”.

Media frenzy

The arraignment brought a media frenzy to an island some of the world’s richest and most famous people retreat to in part because of the invisibility and anonymity it offers. It was standing-room only inside the island’s only courthouse as journalists and curious locals crowded into the small room.

As he left, Spacey ignored questions shouted by the media and entered an SUV parked outside the courthouse. As he got into the vehicle, an onlooker shouted “Underwood 2020!” - a reference to the American president Spacey played on the Netflix series House of Cards.

Spacey had asked to skip the arraignment, saying his “presence [would ] amplify the negative publicity already generated in connection with this case”. That request was denied.

Sexual assault allegations were first publicly raised against Spacey in October 2017 by the actor Anthony Rapp, who said that when he was 14 and Spacey was 26, the older man made a sexual advance on him.

Busboy

A month later Heather Unruh, formerly a prominent Boston TV news anchor, said her son had been groped by Spacey while working as a busboy at the Club Car restaurant.

Mitchell Garabedian, the civil attorney representing the young man, said in a statement emailed to the Guardian: “By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted. My client is leading by example.”– Guardian News and Media 2019