Kevin Spacey Trial: Anthony Rapp Loses $40 Million Sexual Battery Lawsuit

Kevin Spacey
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A New York jury has sided with Kevin Spacey in a $40 million civil lawsuit, finding that the Oscar-winning actor did not molest Anthony Rapp when he was a teenager and is not liable for battery. After roughly 80 minutes of deliberations, jurors reached a unanimous decision that Rapp’s lawyers had failed to prove that Spacey “touched a sexual or intimate part” of Rapp.

Rapp looked impassive as Judge Lewis Kaplan formally dismissed the case, and Spacey dropped his head briefly. He later stood up and hugged Chase Scolnick, a member of his legal team.

In a statement on social media, Rapp made no direct mention of the verdict, but thanked the jury for hearing the case. “Bringing this lawsuit was always about shining a light, as part of the larger movement to stand up against all forms of sexual violence,” he wrote. “I pledge to keep on advocating for efforts to ensure that we can live and work in a world that is free from sexual violence of any kind. I sincerely hope that survivors continue to tell their stories and fight for accountability.”

Rapp first made his claims in a 2017 BuzzFeed article, in which he said that Spacey lifted him up, placed him on his bed, and pinned Rapp down in a sexually aggressive manner. The alleged assault took place after a party at Spacey’s New York City apartment in 1986. Rapp was 14 years old at the time and Spacey was 26. The two met while appearing in Broadway productions — Rapp in “Precious Sons” with Ed Harris, Spacey in a Jack Lemmon-led revival of “Long Days Journey Into Night.” In court, Rapp called the event one of the “most traumatic” of his life.

But Spacey’s lawyers seized on inconsistencies in Rapp’s testimony. They noted, for instance, that Rapp described Spacey as having a separate bedroom, when a floor plan that they produced showed that the actor lived in a studio apartment with once central room. “The star witness of our case was the floor plan,” Jennifer Keller, an attorney for Spacey, said in her closing statements on Thursday.

They also argued that Rapp was upset that Spacey was not openly gay and that he was consumed with jealousy over the actor’s superior Hollywood career. Rapp starred in the original Broadway production of “Rent” and appears on “Star Trek: Discovery.” Spacey appeared in hit films such as “American Beauty” and “L.A. Confidential,” as well as the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

Outside the courthouse after the verdict was read, Keller praised the decision. “We’re very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” she said.

In their closing arguments, Rapp’s side argued that Spacey was a sexual predator who had taken advantage of a child. “[Kevin Spacey] cannot control his sexual urges when they come up,” Richard Steigman, one of the lawyers on Rapp’s team, said.

Rapp was dealt a blow earlier this week when Judge Kaplan ordered that an emotional distress claim be dropped from the case, declaring it redundant.

Even though Spacey scored a victory against Rapp, he still faces legal challenges. He has been ordered to pay MRC, the producer of “House of Cards,” $31 million in damages after the political thriller had its episode-order cut in the wake of abuse allegations against the star. Spacey also faces charges in the U.K. for sexually assaulting three men when he was living in London as the artistic director of the Old Vic theater. He has pled not guilty.

When Rapp first went publicly with his claims in 2017, Spacey was contrite, offering, “the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” In court, Spacey said he was pressured by his publicist to make that statement.

“I was being encouraged to apologize and I’ve learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something that you didn’t do,” Spacey testified. “I regret my entire statement.”

Updated: 2:47 p.m. PST

From Variety US