On the fifth anniversary of MeToo, one of the most talked-about chapters of the movement against sexual abuse carried out by some of Hollywood’s most powerful people continues to work its way through a Manhattan court. Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey has again denied allegations of sexual abuse lodged by US actor and singer Anthony Rapp, who accuses the star of films including American Beauty and The Usual Suspects of raping him when he was still a minor.
Rapp’s allegations caused Spacey’s role in the hit Netflix show House of Cards to be canceled and also forced the 63-year-old to come out after he had spent his entire life attempting to keep his sexual orientation a secret out of fear of his father, who Spacey described through tears in court on Monday as a “white supremacist” and a “neo-Nazi,” who openly disapproved of homosexuals and his son’s love of the theater.
Rapp is seeking damages of $40 million for the “emotional distress” caused by the alleged abuses, which the 50-year-old Star Trek: Discovery actor said took place in 1986 when he was 14 years old and Spacey was 26. Spacey has always denied the accusations, stating that he “does not remember ever having been at a private party” with Rapp or “having any memory of meeting him in an apartment.”
Rapp claims that Spacey invited him to a party at the actor’s Manhattan apartment, where he “picked him up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold,” placed him on a bed and touched and groped him without his consent before lying on top of him.
Spacey facing another trial in 2023
Spacey is currently involved in more than one court hearing over allegations of sexual abuse. In May, he was formally accused of four offenses allegedly carried out between 2005 and 2013 against three British citizens in London and Gloucestershire. In July, during the preliminary hearing of the trial, which is scheduled to be heard in early 2023, the actor reiterated his innocence. He also pleaded not guilty to “forcing a person to engage in a sexual act with penetration without consent.”
Spacey’s defense team have tried to pick Rapp’s accusation apart by highlighting several contradictions over dates and for having omitted details of what happened, such as the presence of a friend in the room when he first met Spacey, which the actor says is the only one that took place. Spacey described a different sequence of events, stating that he invited Rapp to his apartment for dinner along with another aspiring actor, John Barrowman, whose presence Rapp did not disclose when making the accusations. Spacey said that he flirted with Barrowman, who was 19 at the time, but showed no interest in Rapp during the encounter. “Anthony Rapp looked like a boy and John Barrowman looked like a man,” Spacey said in an account of the evening confirmed by Barrowman in a statement. The actor and his defense scored a victory on Monday when they succeeded in persuading the judge to dismiss the incident as “an intentional act,” as Rapp’s lawyers have claimed.
Unlike previous trials, Spacey has opened up in the Manhattan courtroom by explaining that he has tried to keep his sexuality and his private life out of the public eye. The actor had never before revealed aspects of his personal life in any of the hearings he has been called to attend since the allegations first came to light in 2017. Rapp made the accusation in an interview with US media outlet Buzzfeed, which Spacey responded to by stating he was “beyond horrified to hear his story.” He later issued an apology on the advice of his public image advisers, saying he had “no idea where the events could have occurred.” The actor later said he regretted issuing the apology, as it only served to further incriminate him. “I learned the lesson of apologizing for something you didn’t do,” he told the court on Monday.
The publication of the Buzzfeed article forced Spacey to come out publicly, something he had been considering for over a year previously, as he felt that his acting career was sufficiently well-established after his Oscar wins for The Usual Suspects and American Beauty. “I was accused of trying to change the subject, of trying to divert attention, or of trying to confuse an accusation with the fact that I am gay, which was never my intention,” Spacey said in court. “I would never have done anything to hurt the gay community and I am deeply sorry.”