Kevin Spacey found not liable in civil sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by Anthony Rapp, jury rules

LOWER MANHATTAN — A jury concluded Tuesday that Kevin Spacey had not molested actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14, while both were relatively unknown actors in Broadway plays in the 1980s.

The verdict brings to a close a trial that was a result of the #MeToo movement.

Deliberations began that afternoon after one of Rapp’s attorneys, Richard Steigman, asked the jury to make Spacey pay for attempting to sexually advance Rapp in Spacey’s Manhattan apartment after a party in 1986. He accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand.

Jennifer Keller, an attorney for Spacey, told the jury that Rapp fabricated the encounter and said they should dismiss Rapp’s claims.

Rapp, 50, and Spacey, 63, each testified for several days in the three-week trial. The lawsuit sought $40 million in damages.

Rapp’s claims and those of others abruptly cut short the successful career of the two-time Oscar winner, who lost his job on the Netflix series House of Cards and saw other opportunities dry up. Rapp is a regular on the TV series Star Trek: Discovery and was part of the original Broadway cast of Rent.

In his closing statement, Steigman said the jury should come to the conclusion that Spacey lied to them when he insisted the encounter could not have happened, in part because Rapp claimed it took place in a one-bedroom apartment and Spacey did lived in a studio.

“It lacks credibility,” Steigman said. As for his client, the attorney said he filed the lawsuit “to hold Kevin Spacey accountable.”

“Sometimes the simple truth is the best. The simple truth is that this happened,” he said.

After the jury was sent away to deliberate, Keller drew sympathy from US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan when she complained that Steigman broke procedural rules in ending his summary by telling the jury he hope “you don’t let him get away with it.”

Kaplan had established rules to prevent juries from learning of allegations of sexual abuse against Spacey that were not part of the trial evidence.

Keller called Steigman’s testimony “another clear, deliberate attempt to inform the jury of further allegations against Spacey.”

“I’m very concerned,” she added, saying it could affect the verdict.

Kaplan responded that Steigman’s testimony “should not be happening” and that attorneys may need to present written arguments on the issue if the jury decides in Rapp’s favor. He also said that during his testimony, Rapp shouldn’t have mentioned that there had been other allegations against Spacey.

During her closing argument, Keller attempted to suggest reasons why Rapp would make up the encounter with Spacey, in which he said Spacey picked him up and briefly laid him on top of him on a bed in his apartment. At the time, Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Rapp testified that he squirmed out of the apartment and fled, only to meet a drunk Spacey at the door who asked if he was sure he wanted to leave.

Spacey’s attorney said it’s possible Rapp invented it based on his experience in “Precious Sons,” a play in which actor Ed Harris picks up Rapp’s character and lays on top of him, briefly mistaking him for his wife before discovering it that it is his son .

She also suggested that Rapp later became jealous that Spacey was becoming a megastar while Rapp had “minor roles in small shows” after his breakthrough performance in Broadway’s “Rent.”

“So here we are today, and Mr. Rapp is getting more exposure through this process than he has in his entire acting life,” Keller said.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Kevin Spacey found not liable in civil sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by Anthony Rapp, jury rules

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