Kevin Spacey wins in civil sexual abuse case brought by actor Rapp

(Reuters) – Kevin Spacey on Thursday dismissed a sexual abuse case against him after jurors in the Manhattan civil trial found his accuser had failed to prove his claim that the Oscar-winning actor made a sexual advance on him unwanted at the age of 14.

The verdict follows a three-week trial in Manhattan federal court and came about 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 against Rapp’s hip until he could free himself. Spacey denied the allegation on the stand and said he was never alone with Rapp.

A tearful Spacey, the former star of Netflix’s US political drama ‘House of Cards’, briefly emerged in the lobby outside the courtroom but returned inside. He refused to answer reporters’ questions as he left.

Spacey’s attorney, Jennifer Keller, told reporters her client was grateful the jurors “saw through these false allegations.”

“The next step is for Mr. Spacey to prove himself innocent of everything he’s been charged with,” Keller said.

Spacey faces a criminal trial in London next year after pleading not guilty to five sex offense charges for alleged assaults between 2005 and 2013.

Keller argued during his closing arguments that Rapp’s story was a fabrication. She offered several theories as to 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 lawsuit than he’s had in his entire acting life,” Keller said.

During closing arguments, Rapp’s attorney urged jurors to discredit Spacey’s memory of the events. “It’s inconsistent. It’s not worthy of your faith,” attorney Richard Steigman said, citing what he claimed were gaps in Spacey’s memory and changes in his recollections. Steigman declined to comment after the verdict.

Spacey won Oscars for his performances in “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects,” but his career largely ended after more than 20 men accused him of sexual misconduct.

Netflix dropped him from “House of Cards” and Christopher Plummer replaced him as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World” weeks before the film was scheduled for release in 2017.

Spacey’s defense challenged Rapp’s memory of the 1986 encounter, asking why he described it as having taken place in a bedroom when Spacey was living in a studio at the time.

Keller argued that Rapp’s recollection of meeting Spacey closely resembled a scene from the play Rapp was starring in at the time, in which an older male actor picks him up and places him on a bed.

The trial in Manhattan federal court began Oct. 6, just under five years after Spacey’s career was turned upside down by allegations of sexual misconduct at the start of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out against women. sexual abuse by famous and powerful people. Men have also filed complaints of abuse.

Spacey denied any wrongdoing.

Keller urged jurors to ignore the sexual politics of the case.

“It’s not 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 allegation but allowed the rest of the trial to continue.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Jody Godoy and Jack Queen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, David Bario, Alistair Bell and Mark Porter)

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