Embattled actor Kevin Spacey is set to face his first sexual abuse trial in Manhattan federal court Thursday as a jury will be selected to weigh the claims against the star brought by Broadway actor Anthony Rapp.
Rapp, who acted in the Broadway hit “Rent,” first publicly accused Spacey of sexual assault in a 2017 BuzzFeed news article, claiming Spacey made sexual advances to him in 1986 when he was 14 years old.
He filed suit against the “American Beauty” actor in 2020, claiming Spacey, 63, inflicted emotional distress and battered him during the encounter at the end of a party in his Manhattan apartment.
Spacey “intentionally and voluntarily and without plaintiff’s consent engaged in an unwanted sexual advance with a 14-year-old and grabbed then infant plaintiff, Anthony Rapp’s, buttocks, lifted him onto a bed and laid on plaintiff’s body,” the suit claims.
In his statements to BuzzFeed, Rapp — who said he looked younger than 14 at the time — described Spacey picking him up like a “bride” while trying to seduce him.
“He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold … And then he lays down on top of me,” Rapp told the news outlet.
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp said. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Spacey, whose real name is Kevin Spacey Fowler, has denied the allegations, but initially said he didn’t remember the encounter and blamed it on drunkenness if it were indeed true.
“If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey wrote in a message on Twitter at the time.
Judge Lewis Kaplan will preside over the trial, which is expected to last through at least the end of October in Manhattan federal court.
In July, Spacey pleaded not guilty in London to sex assault charges stemming from allegations that he abused a number of men in the UK while serving as an artistic director at a local theater between 2005 and 2013.
Spacey could face significant prison time if he’s convicted of the top count against him, causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.
The former A-lister was hit with the charge for allegedly forcing a man to have oral sex. He’s set to stand trial in the country in the summer of 2023.