Kevin Spacey

Jury: Kevin Spacey did not molest actor Anthony Rapp in 1986

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press

Posted Thursday, October 20, 2022 4:03 PM EDT

Last updated Thursday, October 20, 2022 7:08 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) – A jury on Thursday sided with Kevin Spacey in one of the lawsuits that derailed the movie star’s career, finding that he did not sexually abuse then-14-year-old Anthony Rapp while they were both relatively unknown actors in 1986’s Broadway.

The verdict in the civil trial came at lightning speed. Jurors in federal court in New York deliberated for a little more than an hour before deciding that Rapp had failed to prove his allegations.

As the verdict was read, Spacey bowed his head and hugged his lawyers. He did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.

“We are very grateful to the jury for investigating these false allegations,” said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.

“Furthermore, Mr. Spacey will be proven innocent of everything he has been accused of.” That there is no truth to any of the allegations,” she added, referring to other allegations of sexual abuse against the actor, including criminal charges in England.

During the trial, Rapp testified that Spacey invited him to his apartment for a party and approached him in the bedroom after the other guests had left. He said the actor, then 26, picked him up and placed him partially on top of him on the bed before twisting and running when a drunk Spacey asked if he was sure he wanted to leave.

In his sometimes tearful testimony, Spacey told the jury that it never happened and he would never be attracted to someone who was 14 years old.

The lawsuit sought $40 million in damages.

Rapp and his attorneys also left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. In his closing statement to the jury Thursday, Rapp’s attorney, Richard Steigman, accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand.

“He lacks credibility,” Steigman said. “Sometimes the simple truth is best. The simple truth is that it happened.”

Rapp, 50, and Spacey, 63, each testified over several days in the three-week trial.

Rapp’s claims and those of others abruptly cut short what had been a soaring career for the two-time Oscar-winning actor, who lost his job on the Netflix series “House of Cards” and saw other opportunities dry up. Rapp is a regular on the TV show “Star Trek: Discovery” and was part of the original Broadway cast of “Rent.”

Spacey faced charges in Massachusetts that he groped a man in a bar — charges that were later dropped by prosecutors.

He pleaded not guilty in London three months ago to charges that he sexually assaulted three men between 2004 and 2015 while he was artistic director of the Old Vic theater in London.

A Los Angeles judge this summer upheld an arbitrator’s decision to order Spacey to pay $30.9 million to the makers of “House of Cards” for breaching his contract by sexually harassing crew members.

The Associated Press typically does not name sexual assault accusers unless they come forward publicly, as Rapp did.

At trial, Spacey testified that he was certain the meeting with Rapp never happened, in part because he lived in a studio apartment rather than the one bedroom Rapp had cited, and never had any gatherings other than a housewarming party.

“I knew I would have no sexual interest in Anthony Rapp or any child. I knew that,” he told jurors.

During her closing arguments to the jury, Keller suggested reasons why Rapp imagined or made up the meeting with Spacey.

She said it’s possible that Rapp made it up based on his experience acting in “Precious Sons,” a play in which actor Ed Harris grabbed Rapp’s character and lay on top of him, briefly mistaking him for his wife before realizing that he is his son

She also suggested that Rapp later became jealous that Spacey had become a megastar while Rapp had “smaller roles in small shows” after his breakthrough Broadway performance in “Rent”.

“Fame didn’t chase him,” Keller said. “Mr. Rapp’s trainer turned into a pumpkin.”

“So here we are today, and Mr. Rapp is getting more attention through this trial than he has in his entire acting career,” Keller said. She said Rapp is now well known because he took down one of Hollywood’s biggest actors.

During two days of testimony, Spacey expressed regret for a 2017 statement he made when Rapp first went public, in which he said he had no recollection of the encounter but that if it had occurred “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”

Wiping his eyes with a tissue, Spacey said he had been pressured by publicists and lawyers to issue an empathetic statement at a time when the #MeToo movement was unnerving everyone in the industry.

“I learned a lesson, never apologize for something you didn’t do,” he said.

He also cried when he said he regretted coming out as gay the same day Rapp’s allegations surfaced, as some interpreted his announcement as an attempt to change the subject or deviate from Rapp’s revelations.

Spacey testified that he spoke about deeply personal matters in court when he told the jury that his father was a white racist and neo-Nazi who called him gay because he liked the theater.

Spacey also gave courtroom audiences a brief taste of his acting chops when he impersonated his then-Broadway co-star Jack Lemmon. He has previously testified that his ability to do impressions has helped him in his acting career.

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