The 59-year-old actor and former artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre is accused of inappropriately touching an employee of the Club Car, a restaurant and bar on Nantucket – an island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts – on the evening of 7 July.
He is charged with indecent assault and battery, which is a felony. If convicted, the Hollywood star faces a maximum of five years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender.
Spacey—wearing a paisley shirt, blue tie and a grey suit—entered the small standing-room only courtroom crowded with locals and journalists. The actor did not speak during the hearing, and was not asked to enter a not guilty plea.
Under Massachusetts law, this happens automatically, and the defendant does not have to state it.
The two-time Oscar winner had tried to avoid appearing in court for the arraignment, with his lawyers arguing that his presence would turn the hearing into a circus. But on Monday, the Judge Thomas S Barrett said Spacey will not have to be physically present for his preliminary hearing, his next court date, on March 4. Instead, the actor must be available by phone.
The prosecutors did not request bail for Spacey. He also nodded slightly when told he was to have no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses.
The judge also granted Spacey’s lawyer request to preserve the alleged victim’s cloud and cellphone data for six months after the date of the alleged assault for evidence. The evidence in question is a one-second Snapchat video the alleged victim sent to his girlfriend. The video footage shows a hand grabbing a clothed area.
The star had to fight through a huge media scrum to make it from his car to the courthouse for the ten-minute hearing.
During his hurried walk out of the courtroom, reporters shouted questions at Spacey.
"What are you feeling today Mr Spacey?" one person asked.
The actor did not answer the question, or any at all, and did not mutter anything else as he walked to his car.
As he got into his SUV, an onlooker can be heard shouting "Underwood 2020!" — a reference to his hit Netflix television series House of Cards.
The downtown Nantucket courthouse is a couple of blocks from the water and a short walk from the lounge where the alleged incident took place.
His accuser is being represented by Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston-based lawyer known for leading the prosecution of predatory priests in the diocese.
Sexual misconduct allegations were first brought forward in October 2017 at the height of the #MeTooMovement, which centered on allegations against former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Actor Anthony Rapp said that Spacey made sexual advances towards him about 31 years ago. Mr Rapp said that the House of Cards actor allegedly climbed on top of him at a bed during a party. At the time, Mr Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26.
In response, Spacey said he did not remember the alleged incident, but apologised for his “deeply inappropriate drunk behaviour.”
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