NEW YORK (AP) — A jury Thursday sided with Kevin Spacey in one of the trials that derailed the film star’s career, finding he did not sexually assault then 14-year-old Anthony Rapp, while both were relatively unknown actors in Broadway plays in 1986.
The verdict in the civil trial came quickly. A federal jury in New York deliberated for a little over an hour before deciding that Rapp had failed to prove his allegations.
As the verdict was read, Spacey bowed his head and then hugged his lawyers. He did not speak to reporters as he exited the courthouse.
“We are very grateful to the jury for clearing these false allegations,” said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.
“Next, Mr. Spacey will be proven innocent of everything he is accused of. That there was no truth to any of the allegations,” she added, citing other sexual misconduct lawsuits against the actor, including criminal charges in England.
During the trial, Rapp testified that Spacey invited him to his apartment for a party and then approached him in a bedroom after the other guests left. He said the then 26-year-old actor picked him up and partially laid him on a bed before squirming away and fleeing when a drunk asked Spacey if he was sure he wanted to leave.
In his sometimes tearful testimony, Spacey told jurors it never happened and he’d never been attracted to anyone 14 years old.
The lawsuit sought $40 million in damages.
Rapp and his lawyers also left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. In his closing arguments before the jury on Thursday, Rapp’s attorney, Richard Steigman, accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand.
“It lacks credibility,” Steigman said. “Sometimes the simple truth is the best. The simple truth is that this has happened.”
Rapp, 50, and Spacey, 63, each testified for several days in the three-week trial.
Rapp’s claims and those of others abruptly cut short the successful career of the two-time Oscar winner, who lost his job on the Netflix series House of Cards and saw other opportunities dry up. Rapp is a regular on the TV series Star Trek: Discovery and was part of the original Broadway cast of Rent.
Spacey was accused in Massachusetts of groping a man in a bar – charges later dropped by prosecutors.
Three months ago he pleaded not guilty in London to sexually assaulting three men between 2004 and 2015 when 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 the House of Cards creators $30.9 million for violating his contract by sexually harassing crew members.
The Associated Press typically doesn’t name people making allegations of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Rapp did.
During the trial, Spacey testified that he was certain he never met Rapp, in part because he lived in a studio apartment and not the one bedroom Rapp cited, and he never had one Meeting outside of a housewarming party.
“I knew I would have no sexual interest in Anthony Rapp or any child. I knew that,” he told the jury.
During her closing arguments before the jury, Keller suggested reasons why Rapp imagined or made up the encounter with Spacey.
She said it’s possible Rapp invented it based on his experience in Precious Sons, a play in which actor Ed Harris picks up Rapp’s character and lays on top of him, briefly mistaking him for his wife before discovering that it is his son.
She also hinted that Rapp later became jealous that Spacey was becoming a megastar while Rapp had “minor roles in small shows” after his breakthrough performance in Broadway’s Rent.
“Fame didn’t follow him,” Keller said. “Mr. Rapp’s carriage turned into a pumpkin.”
“So here we are today, and Mr. Rapp is getting more exposure through this process than he has in his entire acting life,” Keller said. She said Rapp is now known for beating one of Hollywood’s biggest actors.
During the two-day testimony, Spacey expressed regret over a statement he made in 2017 when Rapp first went public, saying he didn’t remember the encounter but if it happened, “I owe it.” I offer him the most sincere apologies for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
Dabbing his eyes with a tissue, Spacey said he was pressured by publicists and lawyers to make an empathetic statement at a time when the #MeToo movement was making everyone in the industry nervous.
“I learned a lesson in never apologizing for something you didn’t do,” he said.
He also cried as he said he regretted publicly revealing that he was gay on the same day Rapp’s allegations emerged, because some interpreted his announcement as an attempt to change the subject or distract from Rapp’s revelations.
Spacey had testified that he spoke about deeply personal matters at the trial and told the jury that his father was a white supremacist neo-Nazi who called him gay because he liked theater.
Spacey also gave courtroom viewers a glimpse of his acting skills as he impersonated his then-Broadway co-star Jack Lemmon. He had previously testified that his ability to make an impression helped him in his acting career.
This story has been updated to correct the day of the week in the lead paragraph to Thursday instead of Tuesday.
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