LONDON (AP) — It was no coincidence that three of Kevin Spacey ‘s four accusers described similar crotch-grabbing incidents, a prosecutor said Wednesday in her closing argument at his sexual assault trial.
Prosecutor Christine Agnew said the interactions with the Hollywood star that left the men feeling “small, diminished and worthless” were similar not because the men had conspired — they didn’t know each other — but because it was, as she said earlier in the case, Spacey’s trademark move.
“There comes a stage when so many people are saying the same thing,” Agnew told a London jury. “It just becomes, I’d suggest, overwhelming.”
Spacey seized brief moments for an “opportunity grab” and was able to get away with the assaults for years, because he was a celebrity who took advantage of his power, Agnew said.
The two-time Oscar winner long had benefited from a “trinity of protection:” knowing that men he attacked would not complain; if they did, he knew they wouldn’t be believed; if they were believed, he knew authorities wouldn’t take action because of his status, Agnew said.
That changed after allegations in the U.S. arose in 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement when a fellow American actor accused Spacey of sexual misconduct decades earlier.
Other allegations followed and eventually led the four men to independently complain to police in the U.K. about incidents between 2001 and 2013, mostly during the period Spacey was artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre in London. The alleged acts escalated from unwanted touching to aggressive crotch-grabbing and, in one instance, performing oral sex on an unconscious man.
Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including multiple counts of sexual and indecent assault and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent. He had faced 13 charges until Wednesday when the judge removed four counts that duplicated the same allegations under an older statute.
The defense is scheduled to present its closing arguments on Thursday in Southwark Crown Court in London.
The actor testified over two days and denied sexually assaulting three men. He said he had consensual encounters with two and downplayed crotch-grabbing allegations by a third man as a “clumsy pass.” He said allegations that he made racially insensitive remarks to a fourth man and violently grabbed his private parts like a striking cobra were “pure fantasy.”
The defense has cast doubt on the accounts of the accusers and suggested they were looking to get rich. Two of the men have filed lawsuits against Spacey and a third man reached out through Spacey’s website seeking to settle the criminal case.
“Are they all motivated by ‘money, money, money’ as you were told rather dramatically by the defendant?” Agnew said in quoting a snippet of Spacey’s testimony. “Or have they all just had enough of the secret of the truth that they have been carrying around for many years? They’re no longer prepared to be the secret keeper of someone who treated them so badly.”
Spacey presented photos one of the men had posted on social media of the two of them and a photo that man sent him from a mountain trek he took where he claimed to have read a Shakespeare soliloquy at Spacey’s suggestion from atop a peak.
Other defense witnesses said Spacey would have had little or no opportunity to assault a man backstage at a charity event, as the alleged victim claimed.
“It’s a backstage quick grab,” Agnew said. “It’s over in a moment.”
Spacey dropped names of famous friends and enlisted the support of Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, to call into question the timing of one accuser’s claim.
Agnew admitted being star struck by the singer’s appearance, which was beamed into the court by video link from Monaco, but told the jurors not to be “sidetracked by the glitter.”
One alleged victim said that he was driving Spacey to the rock star’s White Tie & Tiara Ball in 2004 or 2005 when the actor grabbed his crotch so forcefully that he almost ran off the road.
Furnish backed Spacey’s testimony that he only attended the event in 2001. John didn’t remember the year, but said Spacey was only at their Windsor home once — in the early 2000s — and had spent the night.
The timing is important because the man said Spacey began fondling him around 2000 and the incident — several years later — was the final occasion because he avoided him afterward.
The alleged victim said he may have gotten the year wrong, but that he wouldn’t have forgotten the incident because it took his breath away and he threatened to hit Spacey.
Agnew said there was no doubt that Spacey was a celebrated actor and great patron of the arts and kind — as several friends said in character statements read in court in his defense.
But Agnew said he chose who he was kind to and that didn’t mean he behaved the same way behind closed doors or when opportunity presented itself.
“History is littered with people who are benevolent to some and cruel to others,” Agnew said.
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