A Manhattan jury found Oscar- and Tony-winning actor Kevin Spacey is not liable for battery against fellow actor Anthony Rapp, who alleged that Spacey had made an unwanted sexual advance toward him when he was 14.
The jury of five men and six women deliberated for just under 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon following closing arguments, reports NBC News.
Rapp sued Spacey in 2020 for $40 million, accusing the the American Beauty, The Usual Suspects, and House of Cards star of sexual misconduct during a 1986 incident that occurred during a party at Spacey’s Manhattan apartment.
The lawsuit stemmed from an allegation made by Rapp in an article published by BuzzFeed News in October 2017. In that article, Rapp claimed that Spacey, who was 26 at the time, picked him up, laid him down on his bed, grabbed his buttocks and pressed his groin into Rapp’s body without Rapp’s consent, pressing down on him with his full weight before Rapp squirmed out from underneath him.
Rapp, best known for his roles in Star Trek: Discovery and the musical Rent, claimed that he suffers from PTSD as a result of the incident, testifying that the encounter was “the most traumatic single event” of his life.
But Spacey and his lawyers denied Rapp’s allegations, claiming that Rapp fabricated his version of events because he was jealous of Spacey’s success.
Both men delivered emotional testimony in court during the civil trial, with Rapp fighting back tears as he recounted the alleged encounter with Spacey, arguing that the advances made toward him were unwanted. Spacey, on the other hand, broke down while on the stand, recounting how his father — whom he described as a “white supremacist” and a “neo-Nazi” — had verbally abused him for his interest in theater and his perceived sexual orientation, employing anti-gay rhetoric and slurs against Spacey.
Spacey also said, while on the stand, that he regretted a statement he issued shortly after Rapp’s allegations went public in which he said he did not recall the alleged incident but apologized for “what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
He also came out as gay in that statement — a secret he had suppressed for years, in part, due to his treatment at the hands of his father. Spacey testified that he now believes he should not have apologized for something he did not do, and lamented using the statement as a chance to come out as gay — which he noted offended many in the gay community.
Rapp had initially brought three charges against Spacey: one for assault, one for battery, and one for infliction of emotional distress. But Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the trial, dismissed the assault claim prior to trial, on the grounds that it was not covered by a 2019 law that allowed people to bring claims regarding alleged sexual misconduct that would have normally been prevented from going to trial due to the statute of limitations.
Kaplan also dismissed Rapp’s claim of emotional distress on the sixth day of the trial.
Spacey’s attorneys celebrated the jury’s verdict.
“I’m very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” Jennifer Keller, one of Spacey’s attorneys, told news media after the trial. Spacey did not offer any comment, although he did appear to be relieved by the verdict, hugging his lawyers in celebration.
Richard Steigman, an attorney representing Rapp, appeared disappointed but insisted his client’s version of events was the truth.
“Anthony told his truth in court,” Steigman said. “While we respect the jury’s verdict, nothing changes that.”
Since Rapp’s allegations were made public, Spacey has been accused by more than 20 men of sexual misconduct, although he has denied all the allegations made against him.
He faces trial in the United Kingdom for allegedly assaulting three men more than a decade ago. In July, he pleaded not guilty to four separate criminal counts at a hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court, and is expected to go to trial next June.
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