January 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm PST | by Sean Shealy
Spacey lawyers claim 2016 groping incident was consensual

Kevin Spacey posted a bizarre video last week. (Screen grab from YouTube)

Disgraced gay actor Kevin Spacey disputes the old adage that any publicity is good publicity. On Dec. 31, Nantucket, Mass. District Court Judge Thomas Barrett denied a motion filed by Spacey’s legal team asking to waive his Jan. 7 arraignment appearance on one count of felonious indecent assault and battery. Through his attorneys, Spacey argued that, “my presence will amplify the negative publicity already generated in connection with this case.”

The motion also indicated that Spacey intended to plead not guilty to the sexual assault allegation. If convicted, the actor faces up to five years in prison or up to 2½ years in jail and a requirement to register as a sex offender, according to court documents.

In response, Cape and Islands Assistant DA Michael K. Giardino argued that under rules for criminal procedure, Spacey’s appearance is required at the arraignment.

More details about the case and Spacey’s legal strategy emerged during the initial 36-minute “show-cause” hearing Dec. 20 before the Clerk magistrate to determine if probable cause existed to merit a criminal charge. Spacey defense attorney Alan Jackson, a former Head Deputy District Attorney for the Los Angeles County DA, claimed that the 2016 groping incident was actually a consensual encounter initiated by the then-18-year-old alleged male victim. Spacey’s other legal team members include Bryan J. Freedman, a top-rated LA-based Entertainment & Sports attorney, and Juliane Balliro, a criminal defense attorney based in Boston.

During questioning, Jackson focused on the report by Massachusetts State Police Trooper-Detective Gerald F. Donovan that serves as the basis for the assault charge. In the police report, the still unidentified alleged victim, who worked as a busboy at the restaurant, told detectives he was the one who first approached the actor inside the bar area of the Club Car, a Nantucket restaurant, in July 2016. He admitted that he lied to Spacey, telling him that he was a 23-year-old college student, when he was actually 18 and not in college.

The Club Car restaurant in Nantucket was the scene of the alleged assault. (screen grab from Google Earth)

According to Donovan’s report, the alleged victim said he drank between eight and 10 alcoholic drinks (a mix of several beers and whiskey) in roughly an hour and a half. He also acknowledged he was intoxicated and that he may have blacked out shortly after Spacey allegedly groped him. He also told Donovan he smoked a cigarette with Spacey and later exchanged phone numbers with him.

Jackson asked Donovan to verify that the alleged victim had told him that the groping went on for approximately three minutes without the alleged victim moving away or telling Spacey to stop.

“That’s an incredibly long time to have a strange man’s hands in your pants, correct?” Jackson noted to Donovan, according to an audio recording of the hearing obtained by The Boston Globe.

“I would agree with that. Yes,” Donovan replied.

According to Donovan’s report, the alleged victim said he was texting his girlfriend at the time of the encounter with Spacey and he sent a video to his girlfriend over Snapchat to prove he was telling the truth. The teen’s girlfriend confirmed to detectives that she had received the video at the time. Jackson noted that both the prosecutor’s office and the defense team had copies of the brief video, which he noted shows an unidentified hand touching another person’s shirt, but does not show anyone being groped.

The alleged victim claimed that it was tough to move away in the crowded bar. He told investigators that he tried to shift his body away from Spacey and to push away Spacey’s hand, but “Spacey kept reaching down his pants,” according to the police report.

Jackson noted that investigators were unable to find anyone who witnessed the actual alleged groping, though Donovan’s report says other people confirmed seeing Spacey and the teenager together at the bar that evening, including one person who said they noticed the teenager at one point turned “pale, blank, a bit frightened.”

“After the alleged assault, which the victim claimed he was frozen with shock throughout, the actor went to the restroom at which time the young man left. He told investigators Spacey texted him ‘I think we lost each other,’ shortly thereafter, according to the complaint. The alleged victim did not respond,” The Wrap reported Dec. 27. 

Donovan’s police report also notes that the alleged victim told detectives that he ran home after the incident and told family members about being groped that night.

“[The alleged victim] said the whole thing was embarrassing and has had a ‘profound emotional effect’ on him,” Donovan reported. “[He] called the police because he doesn’t want what happened to him to happen to anyone else.”

According to the court documents, the teenager first contacted the Nantucket Police on Oct. 31, 2016 reporting the assault. That’s one year before actor Anthony Rapp told Buzzfeed in a shocking Oct. 2017 interview that Spacey made sexual advances to him when he was a 14-year-old boy. Spacey, then aged 26, is alleged to have invited Rapp to his New York apartment for a party where he allegedly assaulted Rapp. Spacey later apologized publicly and then awkwardly disclosed that he is gay.

But Nantucket law enforcement apparently didn’t act in the 18-year-old’s case until his mother, former Boston WCVB news anchor Heather Unruh, held a press conference on Nov. 8, 2017 disclosing that her son had been sexually assaulted by the actor.

“My son was not of legal age to drink alcohol. He told Kevin Spacey that he was of legal age. But whether he was over 21 or not, Kevin Spacey has no right to sexually assault him. There was no consent,” The Wrap reported Unruh as saying. “Kevin Spacey bought him drink after drink after drink and when my son was drunk Kevin Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him….We want to make it clear, this was a criminal act.”

Unruh added: “The victim, my son, was a starstruck straight 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator or that he was about to become his next victim.”

Unruh told reporters that her son didn’t report the assault at the time because he was embarrassed and scared. Her family decided to come forward after others went public with allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey and other celebrities, she said.

The Nantucket investigation started after the alleged victim spoke with Donovan on Nov. 22, 2017. The news broke on Christmas Eve that Spacey would face one count of felonious assault.

The Nantucket Police Department referred all questions from the Los Angeles Blade about the initial report to the Cape & Islands DA’s Office where a spokesperson for District Attorney Michael D. O’Keefe said the office had no comment.

LA District Attorney spokesperson Greg Risling told the Los Angeles Blade that Spacey is still under scrutiny in a case that alleges he attacked a man in Malibu in October 2016.

This is the second sexual assault case against Spacey being handled by LA DA Jackie Lacey’s Entertainment Sex Crimes Task Force. Prosecutors declined to prosecute Spacey in the case of an unnamed adult gay man who alleged Spacey assaulted him in West Hollywood in October 1992—the gay man was not a minor at the time of the alleged assault. That case had been submitted to the DA’s office for review by the LA County Sheriff’s Department in August of 2018.

“The reporting party alleged that he was the victim of a sexual assault,” Risling told the Los Angeles Blade. “The allegation is outside the statute of limitations, therefore, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence is not warranted and prosecution is declined.”

Spacey is also under criminal probe in Britain. London’s Metropolitan Police are probing six allegations against Spacey after more men have come forward. A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said the law enforcement agency received three more allegations of sexual assault from February to April of 2018, in addition to the three made in late 2017.

According to Vox.com, there have been allegations made by more than 30 individuals against the actor since Oct. 2017, ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault.

Neither Spacey nor his lawyers have addressed the allegations publicly, but the actor released a bizarre video Dec. 24 in the voice of Frank Underwood, his character on Netflix’s “House of Cards.” In it he says: “I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the thing I didn’t do.”

Some in social media questioned whether this was Spacey obliquely refuting the 18-year-old’s allegations or whether it was to portray Frank Underwood once again after having been ignominiously fired. Nonetheless—Underwood is a liar, cheat and murderer so it is unclear what message Spacey was trying to convey.

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