Hollywood star Kevin Spacey on Thursday pleaded not guilty at London’s Old Bailey court to four charges of sexual assault against three men. The 62-year-old star was wearing a blue suit and blue tie as he stood in the dock at the UK’s top criminal court. He spoke to confirm his name and age before pleading not guilty to four charges of sexual assault and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.
The Crown Prosecution Service, which is responsible for bringing prosecutions in England and Wales, said in May that it had authorized charges against Spacey. A two-time Oscar winner for “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty”, he was formally charged by police in the British capital the following month and voluntarily appeared in court within days.
At a hearing last month, Spacey’s lawyer Patrick Gibbs told the court his client “strenuously denies any and all criminality in this case”. “He needs to answer these charges if he is to proceed with his life,” Gibbs added at the time. The deputy chief magistrate at the initial hearing was told that the actor lives in the United States, where he has family and a nine-year-old dog.
The magistrate formally withdrew an arrest warrant that had been issued two weeks prior after learning Spacey had travelled to London to appear in person. Reporting restrictions prevent the media going into detail about the charges to avoid prejudicing a jury at any trial.
‘Prove my innocence’
The first two charges of sexual assault date from March 2005 in London and concern the same man, who is now in his 40s. The third is alleged to have happened in London in August 2008 against a man who is now in his 30s. Spacey has also been charged “with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent” against the man in his 30s.
The fourth sexual assault is alleged to have occurred in Gloucestershire, western England, in April 2013 against a third man, who is also now in his 30s. None of the alleged victims can be identified under English law. After the prosecutors’ May announcement, Spacey said he was “disappointed” with the decision. “I will voluntarily appear in the UK as soon as can be arranged and defend myself against these charges, which I am confident will prove my innocence.”
Spacey was artistic director of The Old Vic theatre in London between 2004 and 2015. Allegations against him emerged in the wake of the #MeToo movement that saw numerous claims of sexual assault and harassment in the movie industry.
That prompted an investigation by London’s Metropolitan Police and a review by The Old Vic of his time in charge there. Claims against Spacey in 2017 led to the end of his involvement in the filming of the final season of the Netflix drama “House of Cards”. He was also dropped from a Gore Vidal biopic on the TV streaming network and as the industrialist J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World”. – AFP