Three of Kevin Spacey’s accusers are liars, his lawyer told jurors Thursday at the actor’s sexual assault trial, and he suggested they not convict him for making a “clumsy pass” at a fourth man. Spacey was an easy mark for men who hopped on a “bandwagon” and fabricated stories in hopes of a payout, attorney Patrick Gibbs said.
“A man who is promiscuous, not publicly out, although everyone in the business knows he’s gay, who wants to be just a normal guy,” Gibbs said in describing his famous client. “It’s a life that makes you an easy target when the internet turns against you and you’re tried by social media.”
Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including multiple counts of sexual and indecent assault and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.
The jury of nine men and three women is due to begin deliberating on Monday in Southwark Crown Court.
The acts alleged between 2001 and 2013 range from unwanted touching to aggressive crotch-grabbing and, in one instance, performing oral sex on an unconscious man. Spacey was artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre in London during most of that period.
Gibbs said the prosecution case was based on fictions and fantasies.
Contrary to the prosecution’s claim that Spacey exploited his celebrity status to take advantage of and silence his alleged victims, Gibbs suggested it was his client, seated near a jailer in the dock, who suffered from a power imbalance and was forced to disprove the lies against him.
“With each allegation that’s discredited, the possibility, the reality that false allegations, even apparently convincing false allegations, not always, but sometimes, really do happen — especially where fame, money, sex, secrets, shame and sexual confusion are all in the mix,” Gibbs said.
Prosecutor Christine Agnew said in her final argument that it was no coincidence that three of the men, who didn’t know each other, had accused Spacey of aggressively grabbing them by the crotch, which she called his “trademark” move.
But Gibbs said that the pattern that had emerged during the trial was of the defense disproving or casting doubt on the accusers.
Gibbs focused on the allegations by a man who said Spacey subjected him to unwanted touching for years until a day he was driving the star to Elton John’s gala ball in 2004 or 2005 when the actor grabbed his crotch so forcefully that he nearly swerved off the road.
Photos showed Spacey only attended the party in 2001 and that was supported by surprise testimony from John and his husband, appearing in the London court by video from Monaco.
“To their everlasting credit, Sir Elton John and David Furnish stood up and were counted in defense of a man who has been universally canceled ... risking the wrath of the internet,” Gibbs said. “You need to look no further than that for bravery.”
Spacey teared up and dabbed at his eyes with a tissue.
Gibbs said the prosecution tried unsuccessfully to suggest the incident happened in different years or during a different trip to the singer’s house, though John and Furnish said Spacey had only visited once.
The alleged victim on cross-examination said that he may have gotten the year wrong, but he was adamant the incident happened because it took his breath away and he avoided Spacey afterwards.
Spacey testified over two days last week, saying he had consensual encounters with the man who was behind the wheel, along with another straight man. The Oscar winner surmised that they were later ashamed and must have regretted their time together.
Gibbs said a photo that the driver sent Spacey from a mountain peak and photos of him with Spacey that he posted on social media years later further undermined the man’s testimony.
“He had already told us that Mr. Spacey made him sick,” Gibbs said. “But that was a lie and it was a lie that he thought he could get away with, because he didn’t remember the photograph. ... A picture really is worth 1,000 words.”
Spacey testified that allegations that he made racially insensitive remarks to another man at a theater, and like a striking “cobra” had violently grabbed his private parts backstage were “pure fantasy.”
Testimony from the director, producer and company manager who were present at the time suggested Spacey would have had little or no opportunity to assault the man as he described, Gibbs said. Those witnesses also challenged the man’s account that Spacey looked like he’d been up all night and smelled of alcohol.
“Did it occur to you then that for all his charm that you might have a fantasist before you?” Gibbs asked jurors. “You might ask, ‘How could none of it have happened?’ .... The better question is, ‘How can any of what (the witness) said have happened?’”
Gibbs said that an aspiring actor who said he went to Spacey’s apartment for mentorship and a beer, and awoke the next morning to find the actor performing oral sex on him, was yet another liar.
Phone records showed he continued to communicate with Spacey after the night in question — despite his insistence that he hadn’t. His credibility was further called into question by his efforts to keep police from viewing his phone data, and evidence that he deleted social media accounts and didn’t share messages sent to friends where he joked he might have to have sex with Spacey if his job prospects didn’t improve soon.
“Telephone records do not lie, but people sometimes do,” Gibbs said.
Spacey had testified that he didn’t remember touching the groin a man he met at a pub during a night of heavy drinking, but accepted that it probably happened while making a move on the man.
Gibbs suggested that “maybe in this country ... we don’t convict people of a crime ... for making a clumsy pass.”
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