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News and Analysis

The Continuing Saga Of Kevin Spacey

From his iconic roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty” to his starring role as Frank Underwood in “House of Cards,” Kevin Spacey was loved the world over.

But in October 2017, when the #MeToo movement was in its infancy, Spacey’s world came crashing down.

Actor Anthony Rapp, known for his roles in “Rent” and “A Beautiful Mind,” accused Spacey of making inappropriate sexual advances toward him decades earlier, when Rapp was just 14-years-old. Rapp alleged that Spacey, while apparently drunk, made a sexual advance toward him back in 1986. Rapp made a similar allegation – without Spacey’s name – in a 2001 interview with The Advocate.

TOPSHOT - US actor Kevin Spacey leaves United Sates District Court for the Southern District of New York on October 20, 2022 in New York City. - A New York court on Octobwer 20, 2022 dismissed a $40 million sexual misconduct lawsuit brought against Kevin Spacey by an actor who claimed the disgraced Hollywood star targeted him when he was 14. (Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP) (Photo by YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

As with many #MeToo era allegations, others came forward with their own claims, including Harry Dreyfuss, son of famed actor Richard Dreyfuss, and Boston anchorwoman Heather Unruh, who claimed Spacey had sexually assaulted her son. In total, over 30 people made allegations against Spacey, including eight people who worked on the set of “House of Cards.”

Spacey apologized to Rapp after the allegations were made, releasing a statement that read:

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But 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.”

“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” Spacey continued. “I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

Spacey’s decision to come out as gay when responding to the allegations garnered criticism from other gay celebrities, including George Takei and Lance Bass. They alleged that Spacey was trying to distract from the issue by focusing on his sexuality and excusing his behavior by citing his alcohol use.

Without additional proof of Spacey having committed any of the actions of which he was accused, he was cut from “House of Cards” and a biographical film about John Paul Getty III, “All The Money In The World.” Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer and his scenes were reshot.

In addition to losing roles, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences rescinded its decision to give Spacey an International Emmy Founders Award in 2017. Spacey’s publicist and talent agency soon cut ties with him.

What followed was a series of investigations and charges against the Academy Award-winning actor that have largely gone nowhere.

In April 2018, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office announced it would investigate a claim that Spacey sexually assaulted an adult man in 1992. In July 2018, Scotland Yard announced that three additional allegations of sexual assault had been made against Spacey. In the United Kingdom, this meant Spacey was facing several investigations into his behavior, largely stemming from his time as the artistic director of The Old Vic theatre in London.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the Old Vic Theatre on The Cut on November 16, 2017 in London, England. The Old Vic in London has received 20 separate allegations of "inappropriate behaviour" about the American actor Kevin Spacey, who was their artistic director between 2004 and 2015. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

In September 2018, a lawsuit was filed claiming Spacey sexually assaulted an unnamed masseuse in Malibu, California, two years earlier.

In December 2018, authorities in Nantucket, Massachusetts, charged Spacey with felony sexual assault based on the allegations by Heather Unruh, who had claimed Spacey assaulted her 18-year-old son. The son told police he had been texting his girlfriend while Spacey was allegedly groping him, but neither he nor his mother were ever able to turn over their messages, eventually saying the cell phone used was missing. In June 2019, Unruh’s son filed a lawsuit against Spacey for emotional damages, but a month later, he voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning he could not file it again in the future.

Just two weeks after Unruh’s son dismissed the lawsuit, Massachusetts authorities dismissed the charges against Spacey.

The unnamed massage therapist who filed a lawsuit against Spacey also died during this time, so all criminal cases against Spacey were now closed, as Los Angeles hadn’t brought charges against him, nor had Scotland Yard.

In September 2020, three years after Rapp made his initial allegations, he filed a lawsuit against Spacey alleging sexual assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress as part of the Child Victims Act. Along with Rapp, an anonymous man was also included in the lawsuit, claiming Spacey had sexually assaulted him in 1983 when he was 14-years-old. The next year, this anonymous man was dismissed from the case after he refused to publicly identify himself.

The civil trial against Spacey took place in October 2022, with a jury eventually finding that Spacey did not molest Rapp. As for his earlier apology, Spacey said his publicist had made him write it.

“I was being encouraged to apologize and I’ve learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something that you didn’t do. I regret my entire statement,” Spacey said in court in New York City. “It’s my responsibility. I put it out there. It was really wrong. It was really bad and I’m deeply sorry. I have to own that.”

In 2020, however, before Spacey faced a civil trial over Rapp’s allegations, his production companies were ordered to pay the studio that produced “House of Cards” $31 million for violating its sexual harassment policy. Spacey appealed, but the decision was upheld on August 4, 2022.

On May 26, 2022, British authorities charged Spacey with four counts of sexual assault, with an additional seven charges brought against him on November 16, 2022. Those more recent charges relate to a single complaint regarding incidents that allegedly occurred during Spacey’s time at The Old Vic.

Earlier this month, Spacey told media outlets that he planned to return to acting as soon as he is cleared in the British criminal court. There is no guarantee he will be found not guilty.

This article has been edited for clarity. Spacey was removed from a film about John Paul Getty III, not Gore Vidal as previously stated.

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