An 11-member jury deliberated for just over an hour Thursday before ruling in favor of actor Kevin Spacey in a civil lawsuit filed against him by Anthony Rapp. Rapp accused Spacey, then 26, of sexually abusing him in 1986 when he was 14 years old.
The jury of the three-week trial in New York federal court dismissed Rapp’s lawsuit seeking $40 million in damages and accepted Spacey’s defense that the alleged encounter never took place.
In dismissing the lawsuit, the jury dismissed Rapp’s allegation, first made in 2017 in the early days of the #MeToo witch hunt, that he was molested while he was a minor at a party at Spacey’s apartment during a season they were both actors Broadway.
In doing so, the jury also rejected a central premise of the #MeToo movement: facts, evidence and evidence do not count and accusations by accusers alone are enough to destroy the accused’s careers.
In October 2017, BuzzFeed News published, in lurid detail, Rapp’s claims about Spacey’s “sexual misconduct.” A corporate media campaign ensued, led by the New York Timeswhich ended Spacey’s acting career.
As Rapp’s allegations were followed by numerous similar unsubstantiated claims against him, Spacey was removed from his role as Frank Underwood in the acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards, and the streaming movie service also canceled plans to release a biopic starring the actor , who plays Gore Vidal.
In a thoroughly reactionary move, director Ridley Scott deleted Kevin Spacey from the film all the money in the world a film about billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty that was completed and replaced by actor Christopher Plummer for $10 million.
After the court verdict was read, Spacey reportedly bowed his head, then hugged his lawyers and left the courtroom without comment. His attorney, Jennifer Keller, said outside the courthouse, “We’re just grateful that the jury saw the truth,” adding, “Next, Kevin Spacey will prove his innocence to everything he’s been accused of. That there was no truth to any of the allegations.”
The #MeToo witch hunt against Spacey began in July 2019, when Massachusetts prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charges against him after the accuser refused to testify about missing text messages on his cell phone.
In July of this year, Spacey pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges filed by three people, which prosecutors allege took place between March 2005 and August 2008. At that hearing, Spacey’s attorney said the actor “vehemently” denied the allegations.
The outcome of the trial has confirmed the WSWS’ principled stance against witch hunts. In an article published on November 1, 2017, May a word be spoken in the name of Kevin Spacey?, WSWS art editor David Walsh wrote, “We live once again in an era of denunciations that have the power to destroy lives overnight . And everyone is expected to get involved.”
The article continued, “Once again, it’s ‘rogue time.’ The film world, it is now clear, learned nothing from the McCarthy era. The same modus operandi is at work: the attribution, the association of guilt, witnesses who cannot be questioned, the right-wing forces interfering, the studios immediately blacklisting the accused.”
The WSWS has an impeccable record of defending actors and Hollywood figures – such as Woody Allen, Geoffrey Rush, Frank Langella, Johnny Depp and others – who have become victims of public campaigning over baseless allegations of “sexual misconduct.”
We have consistently pointed to the undemocratic nature of the #MeToo campaign as an extension of the upper-middle-class Democratic Party’s identity politics and its hostility to basic constitutional rights such as the presumption of innocence.