A New York jury sided with famous actor Kevin Spacey on Thursday in one of the lawsuits that derailed the film star’s exploding and infamous career. The jury found that Spacey did not sexually abuse Anthony Rapp, then 14, while both were relatively unknown actors in Broadway plays back in 1986.
The verdict in civil trial came with lightning speed. Jurors in federal court in New York deliberated for a little more than an hour before deciding that Rapp hadn’t proven his allegations against Spacey.
When the verdict was read, Spacey dropped his head, then hugged his lawyers. He didn’t speak to any reporters as he left the courthouse.
“We’re very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.
“What’s next is Mr. Spacey is going to be proven that he’s innocent of anything he’s been accused of. That there was no truth to any of the allegations,” she added, a reference to other sexual misconduct claims against the actor, including criminal charges in England.
During Spacey’s trial, Rapp testified that Spacey had invited him to his apartment for a party, then approached him in a bedroom after the other guests left. He said the actor, then 26, picked him up and laid partially on top of him on a bed before he wiggled away and fled as an inebriated Spacey asked if he was sure he wanted to leave.
In his at times tearful testimony, Spacey told the jury it never happened and he would never have been attracted to someone who was 14.
The lawsuit sought $40 million in damages and came at the heels of the #Metoo movement led by raging liberals that’s now fizzled out.
Rapp and his lawyers left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. In his closing statements to the Jury Thursday, Rapp’s lawyer, Richard Steigman, accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand.
“He lacks credibility,” Steigman said. “Sometimes the simple truth is the best. The simple truth is that this happened.”
Rapp, 50, and Spacey, 63, each testified over several days at the three-week trial.
Rapp’s claims and those of others put an immediate halt to the soaring career of Spacey, a two-time Academy Award winning actor, who lost his job on the hit Netflix Series “House of Cards” because of it.
Rapp si a regular on TV’s “Star Trek: Discovery” and was part of the original Broadway cast “Rent.”
Spacey also faced charges in Massachusetts that he had groped a man at a bar, but those allegations were later dropped by prosecutors.
Three months ago, he pleaded not guilty in London to charges that he sexually assaulted three men between 2004 and 2015 when he was the director of the Old Vic theater in London.
A Judge in Lose Angeles this summer approved an Arbitrator’s decision to order Spacey to pay $30.9 million to the makers of “House of Cards” for violating his contract by sexually harassing crew members.
Spacey testified that the encounter with he and Rapp never happened, and said he was living in a studio apartment, not a one bedroom apartment as Rapp had described. He also said he never had a party beyond a housewarming party.
“I knew I wouldn’t have any sexual interest in Anthony Rapp or any child. That I knew,” he told jurors.
During closing arguments, Spacey’s lawyer Keller, suggested reasons Rapp imagined the encounter with Spacey or made it up.
In one interesting analogy, she said that Rapp invented it based on his experience performing in “Precious Sons,” a play in which actor Ed Harris picks up Rapp’s character and lays on top of him, mistaking him briefly for his wife before discovering it is his son. God, now that sounds like one sick play we never want to see, good lord.
Keller also suggested that Rapp later grew jealous that Spacey had become a megastar while Rapp had “smaller roles in small shows” after his breakthrough performance in Broadway’s “Rent.”
“Fame did not follow him,” Keller said. “Mr. Rapp’s coach has turned into a pumpkin.”
“So here we are today and Mr. Rapp is getting more attention from this trial than he has in his entire acting life,” Keller said. She said Rapp is well known now because he’s taken down one of Hollywood’s biggest actors.
During two days of testimony, Spacey expressed regret for a 2017 statement he issued when Rapp first went public, in which he said he didn’t recall the encounter, but if it happened “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
Dabbing his eyes with a tissue, Spacey said he’d been pressured by publicists and lawyers into issuing an empathetic statement at a time when the #MeToo movement made everyone in the industry nervous.
“I’ve learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something you didn’t do,” he said.
He also cried as he said he regretted revealing publicly that he was gay the same day Rapp’s accusations surfaced because some interpreted his announcement as an effort to change the subject or deflect from Rapp’s revelations.
Spacey had testified that he spoke at the trial about deeply personal matters, telling the jury his father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi who berated him as gay because he liked the theater.
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