Kevin Spacey Pushes Back on Sex Assault Allegation in Court: Teen Accuser Didn't Try to Leave
In court last week, an attorney for Kevin Spacey pushed back against the allegation he sexually assaulted a 18-year-old in a Massachusetts bar in July 2016, PEOPLE confirms.
At a probable cause hearing in Nantucket County Court on Dec. 20, Spacey’s attorney highlighted purported incongruities in the accuser’s story and went as far as to act out the alleged abuse, according to audio of the hearing, which was first published by the Boston Globe.
The defense’s comments at last week’s hearing appear to mark the first known response from Spacey about the 2016 accusation, which ultimately resulted in a felony charge of indecent assault and battery against him.
The actor, 59, will be arraigned next week.
He has hired L.A.-based lawyer Alan Jackson, who did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Friday.
The case broke into the spotlight last year amid multiple other allegations of misconduct against Spacey by various men.
Spacey’s Massachusetts accuser, who is now 20, alleges Spacey reached down his pants and repeatedly touched his genitals over the course of three minutes after they met in July 2016 at a crowded Nantucket bar where the accuser worked as a bus boy.
This allegation was first made public by the accuser’s mother, former news anchor Heather Unruh.
Her son told investigators last fall that he was the one who approached Spacey that summer night, wanting a photo, and proceeded to drink heavily with the House of Cards actor after finishing his shift before the alleged assault took place some time after midnight, police reports in the case show.
The accuser said he and Spacey were together for approximately 70 minutes, according to the reports and last week’s court hearing.
While questioning investigator State Police Trooper Gerald F. Donovan during the hearing — which resulted in the charge being brought against Spacey — attorney Alan Jackson took pains to note that the accuser didn’t immediately report the alleged assault to police.
Jackson stressed that the accuser had lied to Spacey by telling the actor he was a 23-year-old college student but was actually drinking underage that night.
Jackson also confirmed with the investigator that no witnesses have been found who corroborate the alleged groping.
Police reports state that witnesses did confirm Spacey and his accuser were together at the bar and the accuser’s family told police he contemporaneously complained to them about the alleged assault.
Near the end of his comments to the court last week, Jackson took the unusual step of acting out the alleged assault — underlining the apparent strangeness of what the accuser described to police: that Spacey reached back, while facing forward, to grope him for several minutes.
Spacey’s attorney also noted how long 15 seconds was to emphasize how much longer three minutes would have seemed for a groping to occur without witnesses or the accuser stopping it.
Unruh’s son has said he did try to move away from Spacey as he was allegedly groped and tried to move Spacey’s hands away, all to no avail, according to the police reports.
The then-18-year-old said he felt unsure how to escape the situation as it escalated, given that he knew he had lied to Spacey already that night and had been drinking at his job, the reports state.
In court, Spacey’s attorney had trooper Donovan confirm that Unruh’s son did not ask Spacey to stop during the three minutes the alleged assault took place.
“That’s an incredibly long time to have a strange man’s hands in your pants, correct?” Jackson asked.
“I would agree with that,” the trooper replied.
Jackson also cast aspersion on the accuser’s behavior during the alleged groping. According to the police reports, the teen said he was texting and Snapchatting with his girlfriend during the touching.
“Instead of walking away or moving away or moving back or grabbing the wrist or slapping the hand, he indicated to you during that three minute time period that he was texting and Snapchatting?” Jackson asked Donovan, to which he replied in the affirmative.
“He also never verbalized the word, ‘Stop it, I don’t give consent to this, I need you to stop,’ nothing like that, correct?” Jackson asked.
“Correct,” Donovan said.
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Unruh’s son previously told police “his girlfriend did not believe him so that’s when he snapchatted the video,” one of the police reports state. “The [Snapchat] video is one of the last times Spacey touched him. [The accuser] said he had his phone in his left hand and he may have had a glass of whiskey in his right hand.”
In court last week, however, Jackson said the video only shows Spacey’s hand on the accuser’s shirt — and he had Donovan confirm the accuser had misremembered what kind of shirt he was wearing that night when he talked to police.
Days after his probable cause hearing, Spacey released a baffling YouTube video of himself seemingly portraying his House of Cards character and alluding to the real-life allegations against him.
“Some believed everything and have just been waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all,” Spacey said in the video. “They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved.”
In a previous statement to PEOPLE, an attorney for the accuser’s family said: “The complainant has shown a tremendous amount of courage in coming forward. Let the facts be presented, the relevant law applied and a just and fair verdict rendered.”
An Expert Sounds Off
Michael J. Connolly, a Boston defense attorney and former federal prosecutor who is unconnected to the case, says he believes the charge against Spacey is appropriate and that it’s a “very tryable case.”
But Spacey’s team likely also feels “he’s got a very good chance of getting acquitted,” Connolly says.
“Given that the standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, any time you’ve got a ‘he said, she said’ dispute, it’s very difficult to meet that high burden,” he explains. “In this case, both parties allegedly were inebriated. And so that calls into question the credibility of the victim, to the extent that he had excessive amounts of alcohol.”
• Reporting by ADAM CARLSON and CHRISTINE PELISEK