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Spacey, 60, had been accused of making unwanted advances toward then-14-year-old child actor Anthony Rapp, years before Spacey would gain fame as one of Hollywood’s biggest film stars. Rapp claimed Spacey — who was then 26 and, like Rapp, working on Broadway — had invited him to his one-bedroom Manhattan apartment for a party back in 1986 and that, when they were alone, Spacey literally swept the teenage Rapp off his feet and carried him to his bedroom.
There, according to a lawsuit filed by Rapp in 2020, Spacey allegedly grabbed the minor’s buttocks and pressed himself against Rapp before the teen got away.
Spacey vehemently denied the allegations.
After a three-week trial, jurors sided with Spacey, agreeing that Rapp did not prove that Spacey “touched a sexual or intimate part” of Rapp’s body, according to CNN.
After the verdict was read aloud in the federal courtroom, Spacey hung his head before embracing his lawyers at either side of him, according to the Associated Press.
Rapp appeared stoic, according to NBC News reporters in the courtroom.
Spacey’s lawyers, including Jennifer Keller, had spent much of her closing arguments challenging Rapp’s credibility. Keller claimed that Rapp filed false allegations against Spacey because he was envious of Spacey’s achievements, while Rapp’s career — which included the teen 80’s film "Adventures in Babysitting" and television series "Star Trek: Discovery" — didn’t quite measure up to the success of Academy Award-winning Spacey.
She also suggested that Rapp might have been confused, noting that the circumstances alleged by Rapp mirrored a scene he shared with actor Ed Harris while performing “Precious Sons” on Broadway, according to the Associated Press.
Spacey's lawyer also claimed that Rapp simply “hitched his wagon” to the #MeToo movement, according to CNN.
“We’re here because Mr. Rapp has falsely alleged abuse that never occurred at a party that was never held in a room that did not exist,” Keller stated.
Spacey had testified that, counter to Rapp's allegations, he had been living in a studio apartment without a separate bedroom at the time, and had only ever hosted one, small housewarming party.
On the other hand, Rapp’s attorney, Richard Steigman, pointed to a 2017 apology that Spacey made when Rapp first came forward with the allegations, which helped lead to the older man's termination from the hit Netflix series “House of Cards."
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story,” Spacey wrote in 2017. “I honestly do not remember the encounter; it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”
Steigman further accused Spacey of using his acting chops while on the stand, including when Spacey recounted growing up gay while having a homophobic neo-Nazi as a father.
“When you’re rehearsed, and a world-class actor, and you’re following the script and following the testimony of someone else, you can take that stand and be perfectly polished,” said Steigman.
Judge Lewis Kaplan had already dismissed one of Rapp’s claims before the trial and, after Rapp’s defense rested, he dismissed another claim against Spacey for intentional infliction of emotional distress on the grounds that the underlying facts were too similar to those underlying the other claim, according to CNN.
The jury was thus tasked with deciding whether or not Spacey was liable for the alleged battery, but they decided he was not.
Spacey did not address reporters when leaving the courtroom, but his lawyer said she was “very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” according to NBC News.
Following the verdict, Rapp took to Twitter, pledging to continue advocating for survivors of sexual abuse.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have my case heard before a jury, and I thank the members of the jury for their service,” Rapp posted. “Bringing this lawsuit was always about shining a light, as part of the larger movement to stand up against all forms of sexual violence."
Spacey still faces criminal charges in the U.K., where he is accused of multiple sexual assaults against several men between 2005 and 2013.
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