Kevin Spacey moved on then-14-year-old Anthony Rapp at a party in 1986 to “gratify his own sexual desires,” an encounter that left the “Rent” and “Star Trek” actor shaken and with emotional distress that plagues him to this day, his lawyers argued Thursday, the first day of the civil trial in a New York federal court.
A jury of six men and six women was seated before midday, and opening arguments began in what was expected to be a two-week trial behind closed doors, as no cameras are allowed in New York federal courts.
Rapp’s lawyer Peter Saghir told jurors Thursday that Spacey invited the teen to a party at his Manhattan apartment in 1986, When Rapp was an ascending child actor appearing in a play and 26-year-old Spacey was also breaking out on Broadway. When guests had left, a “drunk, swaying” Spacey swept Rapp up like a groom “carrying a bride over a threshold” and laid him on a bed, pinning him beneath Spacey’s full weight, the lawyer said, according to The Associated Press.
Rapp will testify later that he was able to wriggle away and flee to a bathroom, then encountered Spacey again by the door, who asked “Are you sure you want to go?” Saghir said.
“This was a deliberate act,” the lawyer said. “This is not horseplay.”
Both actors appeared in court Thursday, the AP reported. Rapp was observed during a break before opening arguments began crying and dabbing his eyes. A relaxed Spacey, meanwhile, “laughed at the judge’s jokes, smiled at prospective jurors and occasionally whispered with his lawyers.”
Spacey’s attorney Jennifer Keller said Rapp’s civil lawsuit, filed two years ago, is an attempt to gain “attention, sympathy and to raise his own profile,” CNN reported.
“[Rapp] never became the international star that Kevin Spacey did,” Keller told jurors. “He has been simmering and simmering with resentment all this time.”
Rapp first disclosed his allegations against Spacey in 2017, at the beginning of the #metoo movement. Spacey at first said he did not remember the encounter, but later said it never happened.
Keller told jurors Thursday that Rapp was a “troubled young man” who made up a story – and may have based it on “Precious Sons,” the play he was appearing in at the time. A character played by Ed Harris drunkenly mistakes his son, played by Rapp, for his wife – and lays on top of him.
“We’re very confident that once you’ve heard both sides, you’ll be convinced this alleged assault never happened,” Keller said, according to CNN.
Steghir said the incident caused Rapp lasting psychological harm: “Every time he hears Kevin Spacey’s name, he’s back in that apartment in 1986,” he said.
Rapp, who appeared in the original cast for the Broadway smash “Rent,” currently stars in “Star Trek: Discovery” for Paramount+. He is seeking compensation for emotional suffering, medical expenses and lost work.