Kevin Spacey is an aggressive “sexual bully” who assaults men and gets turned on when his unwanted advances provoke anger, a British prosecutor said on Friday at the start of the Oscar-winning U.S. actor’s trial on sex offence charges.
Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to a dozen allegations of historic sex offences committed against four men, then aged in their 20s and 30s, which are said to have taken place between 2001 and 2013. His lawyer said the claims were “damned lies”.
Opening the prosecution case at London’s Southwark Crown Court, lawyer Christine Agnew told the jury the “predatory” Spacey was not just an extremely famous actor who had won a number of awards but “a man who sexually assaults other men”.
“A man who does not respect personal boundaries or space, a man who it would seem delights in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable – a sexual bully,” Agnew said.
“His preferred method of assault is, it appears, to grab aggressively other men in the crotch.”
Spacey, who is being tried under his full name Kevin Spacey Fowler, watched proceedings from the dock, wearing a grey suit, a gold-coloured tie and glasses.
The charges against him include repeated incidents of indecent and sexual assaults. He is also accused of a more serious offence of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
“Each of these allegations of non-consensual sexual conduct is completely denied,” his lawyer Patrick Gibbs said. “Mr Spacey has come back to the UK as he said he would to answer them and say in full in due course what actually happened as he would say it and put all the rumours and conjecture to bed.”
Outlining the allegations of the four men, Agnew said Spacey had repeatedly grabbed and groped the victims or forced their hand onto his own genitalia, and performed oral sex on one while he was asleep.
When one man told him he must never touch him again after Spacey grabbed his crotch very hard, the actor “simply laughed and commented that his getting angry simply turned him on”, Agnew said.
The allegations against Spacey, who won Oscars for best actor in 2000 for “American Beauty” and best supporting actor in “The Usual Suspects” in 1996, took place during the more than a decade he spent in London working at the Old Vic theatre.
In police interviews, Spacey said he had no memory of some of his accusers and denied grabbing them, although he said it was “entirely possible and indeed likely” he had made a clumsy pass at someone he did not recall, Agnew said.
The prosecutor said the jury, who she cautioned might “feel a little star-struck”, would have to decide whether the accusers were lying or making up allegations to benefit financially, with some of them suing the actor in civil courts.
“Or is it the case, as we the prosecution suggest, that Mr Spacey Fowler abused the power and influence that his reputation and fame afforded him?” she said.
Spacey’s lawyer said there were definitely two sides to the stories, and the jurors would need to consider what had actually happened, whether it was consensual, and what was the accusers’ motivation in making their complaints.
“You will hear some truths, you will hear some half-truths, you will also hear … some deliberate exaggerations and some many damned lies,” Gibbs said.
The trial is due to last about four weeks.