© Reuters. Kevin Spacey is cross examined during Anthony Rapp’s (R) civil sex abuse case against Spacey in this courtroom sketch from the trial in New York, U.S., October 18, 2022 as U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan presides. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg
By Jack Queen
(Reuters) – Kevin Spacey on Thursday defeated a sexual abuse claim against him after jurors in Manhattan civil trial found his accuser didn’t prove his claim that the Oscar winner made an unwanted sexual advance on him when he was 14.
The verdict followed a three-week trial in Manhattan federal court and came roughly two hours after jurors began deliberating.
Anthony Rapp, now 50, testified that Spacey climbed on top of him on a bed and pressed his groin into Rapp’s hip until he was able to wriggle free. Spacey denied the allegation on the stand and said he had never been alone with Rapp.
A tearful Spacey emerged in the hall outside the courtroom briefly but went back inside.
During closing arguments Thursday, Rapp’s lawyer urged jurors to discredit Spacey’s recollection of the events.
“It’s inconsistent. It’s not worthy of your belief,” the lawyer, Richard Steigman, said, citing what he claimed were gaps in Spacey’s memory and changes in his recollection.
Steigman declined comment following the verdict.
Spacey’s lawyer, Jennifer Keller, argued during her closing arguments that Rapp’s story was a fabrication. She advanced several theories for why Rapp might have lied, including a desire for attention or jealousy of Spacey’s acting success.
“Mr. Rapp is getting more attention in this trial than he has in his entire acting life,” Keller said.
Spacey’s lawyers advanced several theories for why Rapp might have lied, including a desire for attention or jealousy of Spacey’s acting success.
Spacey won Oscars for performances in “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects,” but his career largely ended after more than 20 men accused him of sexual misconduct.
Netflix (NASDAQ:) dropped him from its political drama series “House of Cards” and Christopher Plummer replaced him in the role of J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World” weeks before the movie’s scheduled release in 2017.
The trial in Manhattan federal court began on Oct. 6, just under five years after Spacey’s career was upended by sexual misconduct allegations in the early days of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse by famous and powerful people. Men also came forward with claims of abuse.
Spacey has denied any misconduct.
Keller urged jurors to ignore the sexual politics of the case.
“This isn’t a team sport where you’re either on the MeToo side or the other side,” Keller said.
Rapp sued Spacey for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress in November 2020.
During the trial, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan dismissed the emotional distress claim but allowed the rest of the lawsuit to proceed.
Spacey faces a criminal trial in London next year after pleading not guilty to five sex offense charges over alleged assaults between 2005 and 2013.