A federal court jury in New York has sided with actor Kevin Spacey in a civil lawsuit by actor Anthony Rapp, who claimed he was a victim of sex abuse by Spacey in 1986 and was seeking $40 million in damages.
Rapp had accused Spacey of molesting him in that year—when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26, and both were fledgling Broadway actors.
As the Associated Press reported, Rapp claimed during the trial that an inebriated Spacey lifted him onto a bed after a party at his Manhattan apartment and pressed his clothed body against the clothed body of Rapp. Rapp said he then ran into a bathroom and later left the apartment.
The jury in Rapp’s lawsuit quickly dismissed that as a false claim. After 3 weeks of the trial, the jury reached its verdict in slightly more than 1 hour, concluding that Rapp had not proven his sex abuse allegations.
Spacey’s attorney, Jennifer Keller, said, “We’re very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations.”
Other sex claims await Spacey
Other claims of inappropriate sexual behavior remain against Spacey, 63, along with criminal charges in England.
In London, Spacey has pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted 3 men between 2004 and 2015 while he was the artistic director of The Old Vic theater.
In Massachusetts, charges that Spacey had groped a man at a bar were dropped by prosecutors.
Such claims have derailed the actor’s highly successful career, which has included Oscar-winning performances in 1999’s American Beauty and 1995’s The Usual Suspects and acclaimed work as a nefarious president in the recent Netflix political series House of Cards.
Rapp, 50, first made a splash in the ensemble cast of the Broadway hit Rent, which later became a film. He also appears as a regular in the cast of the ongoing Paramount+ series Star Trek: Discovery.
#MeToo movement spurred Spacey’s fall
Spacey’s abrupt fall from grace coincided with the rise of the so-called #MeToo movement in 2017 when more and more alleged victims of sexual abuse began speaking out, especially against alleged abusers with fame and power.
That was also the year Rapp first went public with his claims about Spacey.
In this month’s civil lawsuit, Spacey said he’d been pressured by his lawyers and publicists in 2017 to make an empathetic statement in response to Rapp’s claims in that year. As a result, Spacey said in the statement that he didn’t recall the encounter, but if it had occurred, “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
In this month’s trial, Spacey said he regretted having made that statement at a time when the rising #MeToo movement made people in the entertainment industry “nervous.”
“I’ve learned a lesson,” he said, “which is never apologize for something you didn’t do.”
Some claims of sex abuse are false
While victims of sexual abuse have a right to speak up and seek justice, false claims of sex abuse are also made.
That was a finding in the recent dueling defamation lawsuits by actor Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard. After a 6-week trial in Virginia, a jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages to counter Heard’s accusations of domestic abuse.
The jury found that Heard acted with malice when she wrote an opinion piece published in The New York Times in which she indirectly accused Depp of domestic abuse. The jury unanimously concluded that Heard knew that her claims were false and couldn’t substantiate them.
The decision was widely seen as a setback for the #MeToo movement. It often succeeds in getting men convicted in the so-called court of public opinion, but when the case enters an actual court, the burden of proof in a criminal matter falls on the accuser and the prosecutors.
Hardwick also was exonerated
In 2018, TV host Chris Hardwick also was exonerated after he was tacitly accused of sex abuse and sex assault by an ex-girlfriend.
Reactions to such claims were swift, with Hardwick suddenly losing his TV hosting jobs for shows such as AMC’s The Talking Dead while seeing his standing in the entertainment industry plummet. Yet 6 weeks later, after AMC investigated, it reinstated Hardwick on the show.
“We take these matters very seriously,” AMC said in a statement reported by USA Today. “Given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.”
You could face a false sex abuse claim
Even if you aren’t a celebrity, you could face a false sex abuse claim.
Indeed, persons from many walks of life can be subjected to a claim of sexual wrongdoing. These claims can occur as part of a custody fight during a divorce in order to gain leverage, or they can be a case of mistaken identity or a means of seeking revenge by a spurned partner.
Get an experienced sex crime defense attorney
Whatever the situation, if you face a claim, accusation or criminal charge of sexual abuse, sexual assault or some other sex crime, you need to engage an experienced sex crime defense lawyer—and you need to do it quickly.
Houston’s Neal Davis Law Firm has years of experience protecting the legal rights of wronged Americans. We can work to have a charge against you reduced or even dismissed before a trial. And if a trial occurs, we can fight for your freedom.
If you live in Houston, Sugar Land, Conroe, The Woodlands or elsewhere in Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County, contact us today to arrange a private consultation for your case. Your future and your standing in the community may depend on it.