The sexual assault trial against Kevin Spacey (House of Cards, The Usual Suspects) in Manhattan federal court has begun, with a jury of six men and six women selected on Thursday (8 October).
The actor is facing a civil lawsuit that has been brought against him by Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery, Rent), who has alleged that Spacey sexually assaulted him when he was 14 and Spacey was 26.
This is everything you need to know.
What are Anthony Rapp’s allegations?
In October 2017, Rapp accused Spacey of making a “sexual advance” towards him when he was 14 years old, in an interview with BuzzFeed.
Rapp claimed that Spacey had befriended him as they both worked on Broadway shows, and that in 1986, when the House of Cards actor was 26, invited Rapp to his apartment for a party. At the end of the night, Rapp alleged that Spacey picked him up, placed him on his bed, climbed on top of him and made a sexual advance.
Rapp said: “He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, “What’s going on?” and then he lays down on top of me.”
He continued: “He was trying to seduce me. I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Rapp said that he was able to push Spacey off of him, and was able to leave the actor’s apartment.
“The older I get, and the more I know, I feel very fortunate that something worse didn’t happen,” he said. “And at the same time, the older I get, the more I can’t believe it. I could never imagine [that] anyone else I know would do something like that to a 14-year-old boy.”
Spacey responded to Rapp’s allegations at the time with a statement posted on Twitter, in which he said he was “beyond horrified” to hear about the story - but that he “honestly [does] not remember the encounter”.
Spacey said: “But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”
In his statement, Spacey also publicly came out as gay, stating that he has “loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man”.
Spacey was heavily criticised for using his sexuality, which had been speculated upon throughout his career, as a distraction from the accusation being brought against him and for implying a connection between being gay and child sexual abuse.
In a thread of tweets, Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair film critic, wrote: “Coming out as a gay man is not the same thing as coming out as someone who preyed on a 14 year old. Conflating those things is disgusting.
“This exposes the gay community to a million tired old criticisms and conspiracies.
“The distance we’ve had to walk to get away from the notion that we’re all paedophiles is significant.”
What have Kevin Spacey’s lawyers said?
Spacey’s legal team have said that Rapp’s accusations are false, claiming that Rapp was never even at the party where the alleged incident took place, and that, even if it did play out the way he claimed, it wouldn’t constitute a sexual advance.
Attorney Jennifer Keller, representing Spacey, has also claimed that Rapp grew jealous of Spacey when his career didn’t take off the same way the other actors did.
Speaking to the jury, Keller said: “As Mr Spacey’s star rose, Mr Rapp grew resentful. Rent was the apex of his career. He peaked in 2000 and grew bitter. So he became an out gay actor. I don’t know if he would have been a leading man anyway.
“[The 2017 allegations] was right after the Harvey Weinstein allegations. All sorts of people are worried about being cancelled.”
Keller said that Rapp has spoken out against Spacey “for attention, for sympathy and to raise his own profile”, and added: “One of the cardinal rules of the so-called MeToo movement [is] that you have to believe the victim. You’ll see Mr Spacey said, “This didn’t happen, I don’t remember it”. They told him to apologise. It was cleverly set up by Mr Rapp.”
Rapp is suing for compensation for mental and emotional suffering, medical expenses and loss of work. After the 2020 criminal charge of sexual assault was dismissed by a judge, Rapp filed the civil suit.
What are the other allegations against Kevin Spacey?
Following Rapp’s interview with BuzzFeed in 2017, a number of other people came forward with allegations of their own against Spacey.
Journalist and newscaster Heather Unruh alleged that Spacey had assaulted her son, filmmaker Tony Montana said he was groped by Spacey in 2003, actor Harry Dreyfuss, son of Richard Dreyfuss, alleged that Spacey assaulted him when he was 18.
Spacey was also accused by a variety of people who had worked on House of Cards and in November 2017, actors and former staff at the Old Vic theatre, of which Spacey was the artistic director for 11 years, were accused of turning a blind eye towards his inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The Guardian reported that a “number of people who have worked at the theatre in London have contacted the Guardian claiming it was well known that Spacey groped and behaved in an inappropriate way with young men at the time”.
Actor Robert Cavazos recalled a “couple of unpleasant encounters” with Spacey, with a former employee telling the publication: “We were all involved in keeping it quiet.
“I witnessed him groping men many times in all sorts of different situations.”
On 4 August of this year, Spacey was ordered by an LA judge to pay $31 million to House of Cards producers for the costs involved in removing him from the popular Netflix series.