NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Kevin Spacey’s sex abuse trial hit a snag on Thursday when the judge announced that one of Spacey’s top attorneys had contracted COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told the jury that attorney Jennifer Keller is missing because she tested positive for the virus Thursday morning after experiencing symptoms Wednesday night. After making arrangements, Kaplan decided to proceed with the trial.
Face masks are generally optional in the courthouse, and Keller wasn’t wearing them one Wednesday when she questioned actor Anthony Rapp about his allegations that Spacey made a sexual advance to him in 1986 when he was 14. At the time, Spacey was 26 years old. The 63-year-old “House of Cards” star has denied Rapp’s allegation.
Rapp’s attorneys were nearing the end of presenting their case against Spacey when Keller fell ill.
On Thursday, members of Spacey’s defense team, including Spacey, and members of the jury wore masks in the courtroom, along with everyone else who had been in close proximity to Keller. As a judge’s aide offered home coronavirus testing kits to anyone who wanted them, Spacey and others at the defense table raised their hands.
Testimony at the trial so far has focused on Rapp’s claim that Spacey approached him after a party at his Manhattan apartment while Rapp was sitting on a bed watching TV.
Rapp, now 50, testified that Spacey lifted him onto a bed and pressed his clothed body against Rapp’s clothed body before Rapp squirmed out and ran to a bathroom before exiting the apartment.
Through his attorneys, Spacey has denied the encounter ever took place, although he has not yet testified. He arrived at the courthouse later than usual on Thursday.
Rapp is seeking $40 million in damages for what he describes as psychological harm.
Lisa Rocchio, a forensic psychologist who examined Rapp, testified Wednesday that he experienced “an enormous amount of shame, guilt and confusion” after meeting Spacey.
Her testimony continued Thursday as she told jurors that Rapp suffered from delayed-onset post-traumatic stress disorder, which was sparked by reports that film mogul Harvey Weinstein had been accused of sexual abuse by numerous women.
Rocchio was asked how Rapp could have been traumatized if there was no sexual contact and he escaped.
“The trauma lies in the need to flee a perceived threat,” she said.
A lawyer for Spacey requested cross-examination to suggest that Rapp may have been traumatized by other instances when he had unwanted or uncomfortable sexual encounters, which Rocchio found during her investigation — not by Spacey’s alleged abuse.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys are expected to drop their case when the trial resumes on Monday, barring further COVID-19 complications. It was unclear when Spacey would be able to take a stand in his own defense.
The Associated Press typically doesn’t name people making allegations of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Rapp did.
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