Kevin Spacey Found Not Liable in Anthony Rapp Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Jury turned in verdict after one hour of deliberation in the $40 million civil suit

Kevin Spacey
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After deliberating for all of an hour Thursday, a Manhattan jury ruled in favor of actor Kevin Spacey in a $40 million lawsuit filed by “Rent” actor Anthony Rapp, who accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him as a teenager.

The jury dismissed the sole remaining charge – battery – after a brisk nine days of testimony. A judge had dismissed the claim of assault prior to the trial, then dismissed Rapp’s claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress after his attorneys rested their case.

With limited expert and third-party witness testimony, the case largely came down to who the jury would believe more: Rapp or Spacey. Ultimately, Rapp’s testimony about the alleged attack and its aftermath on his life – he claims he suffers PTSD symptoms to this day – was less credible than Spacey’s briefly emotional, but mostly resolute tale from the witness box.

Rapp, who first came out about the alleged abuse in a 2017 Buzzfeed article, claimed that a drunk Spacey attempted to have sex with him at a party at Spacey’s apartment in 1986, when Rapp was 14 years old.

“It felt very wrong,” Rapp said on the stand about the incident. “I didn’t want him to do it, and I had no reason that made any sense of why he would do it. I felt like a deer in headlights.”

In his testimony, Spacey denied the incident, saying that he never felt any sexual attraction to Rapp. He also said that his only regret was apologizing in a social media post responding to Rapp’s claims, which he said at the time “would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”

“I was being encouraged to apologize and I’ve learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something you didn’t do,” Spacey said on the stand on Monday.

Spacey also came out as gay in the apology post. During his testimony, Spacey for the first time publicly spoke about his father, who he said was a white supremacist and Neo-Nazi who would terrorize his children with his views and lectures.

Spacey’s attorney, Jennifer Keller, argued that Rapp had falsely made up his account of the alleged abuse based on a nearly identical scene from “Precious Sons,” a Broadway play he was performing in at the time of the alleged incident.

“We’re here because Mr. Rapp has falsely alleged abuse that never occurred at a party that was never held in a room that did not exist,” Keller said in her closing arguments.

Spacey’s attorneys focused on discrepancies between Rapp’s timeline of events, and the version told by his friend, who was 19 at the time. Spacey admitted to some “playful flirting” with the 19-year-old, but denied being in any way attracted to Rapp, “who seemed like a boy,” he said.

The friend also said the trio met backstage after Spacey’s performance, went to dinner and a nightclub and finished up at Spacey’s house. Rapp said from the stand that the assault took place at Spacey’s Manhattan apartment a number of days after the outing.

Rapp’s attorney, Richard Steigman, dismissed Spacey’s testimony on the stand in which he claimed he was coerced by his publicists to make the public apology to Rapp five years ago.

“When you’re rehearsed, and a world-class actor and you’re following the script and following the testimony of someone else, you can take that stand and be perfectly polished,” Steigman said. “When you’re merely coming to court coming forward and telling the truth of your experience, especially one like this, that’s a little bit complicated.”

Rapp’s civil trial was the first instance of sexual abuse allegations against Spacey actually going to court. Two other possible cases were dropped while a third lawsuit was dismissed after the accuser’s death in December 2019.

While Spacey is for now in the clear legally in the United States, he still faces criminal charges in England that he assaulted three men between 2005 and 2008 while serving as creative director of the Old Vic Theatre. He has pled not guilty to all charges and will face trial in London in June.

Josh Dickey contributed to this report.