MANHATTAN (CN) — Kevin Spacey pointed to a troubled childhood filled with secrecy and dominated by a “white supremacist” and homophobic father as he took the stand Monday to defend himself against claims that he sexually abused a 14-year-old boy decades ago.
The allegations against Spacey came out in 2017 as the #MeToo movement led to a reckoning in the entertainment industry and many others. Anthony Rapp, who played Mark in the original Broadway play “Rent” as well as in the film adaptation, said he identified with Harvey Weinstein’s accusers and wanted to hold Spacey accountable, paving the way for others to do the same. His civil lawsuit seeks $40 million.
Spacey’s attorneys have cast Rapp, 50, as a jealous and angry lesser-known actor who considered Spacey a fraud because he didn’t come out as gay earlier in his career. During his testimony Monday, the 63-year-old “American Beauty” star offered an explanation for his silence, revealing details about his home life for the first time.
“My father was a white supremacist and a neo-Nazi,” Spacey testified. He said he and his siblings were forced to listen to “hours and hours” of lectures about their father’s beliefs, and, as his interest in theater grew, his father, a failed creative writer, would “yell at me about the idea that I might be gay.”
As a result, Spacey continued, he got used to keeping secrets.
“Everything about what was happening in that house was something I felt I had to keep to myself, and keep private, and never, ever talk about to anybody,” Spacey testified. “I have never talked about these things publicly.”
It was in the wake of Rapp’s accusation that Spacey ultimately decided to come out, adding to the controversy with a tweet explaining he didn’t remember the encounter but was sorry if it had happened.
Spacey wanted to “do something positive” by coming out at that moment, he testified through tears, but regretted the decision “within minutes."
“I was accused of trying to change the subject … or I was conflating a situation with being gay, which was never my intention,” Spacey said, wiping his eye with a tissue. “I’m deeply sorry.”
Spacey has since backed off of the apology to Rapp he initially posted and blamed his publicists for suggesting it.
“You have to say you’re sorry, even if it didn't happen. You can’t push back, they’re going to call you a victim blamer,” Spacey’s team told him, according to the “House of Cards” actor’s testimony.
That, too, is something Spacey wishes he hadn’t done.
“I have learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something you didn’t do,” Spacey said. “I regret my entire statement.”
In contrast to Spacey’s focus on his sexuality, Rapp’s attorneys asked jurors to set aside gender and orientation. “Whether it’s a 14-year-old boy or a 14-year-old girl should make no difference in this courtroom,” said Rapp’s attorney Peter Saghir, of the New York firm Gair Gair Conason.
Early on Monday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan pared down Rapp’s case for the second time, dismissing an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against Spacey. Before the case went to trial, Kaplan dismissed an assault count as time-barred.
One battery count remains over objection from Spacey’s team, which argued that both counts at trial are improper under the New York Child Victims Act since there is no evidence that the alleged encounter was “for the purpose of sexual gratification.”
Rapp and Spacey were introduced through Broadway ties in 1986 in New York City. At the time Rapp was 14, and Spacey was 26. Rapp says Spacey invited him to a party at his apartment where he was the only kid. Bored and uncomfortable among all strangers except for Spacey, Rapp says he went to sit on Spacey’s bed and watch TV.
After the other guests had left, Rapp said a visibly intoxicated Spacey approached him, scooped him up and placed him back onto the bed, then climbed on top of him, pinning him down and pressing his groin into Rapp’s hip. In an encounter that lasted just a few minutes, Rapp testified that he wriggled free from beneath Spacey, collected himself in the bathroom, then left the apartment with Spacey tailing him and asking if Rapp was sure he wanted to leave.
Spacey denies that either the encounter or the party ever occurred. His attorneys have focused on a discrepancy between Rapp’s description — that he was in Spacey’s bedroom, the door ajar — and the actual layout of the apartment, an L-shaped studio with no walled-off bedroom.
When he read that detail in the BuzzFeed article breaking Rapp’s story, Spacey testified, he was was confused as to which apartment he was living in at the time. Spacey said he first learned about the article on the same day it was published.
Spacey’s testimony will continue on Tuesday. The actor, whose full name is Kevin Spacey Fowler, also faces four criminal counts of sexual assault in London related to other individuals. He pleaded not guilty in July.Follow @NinaPullano
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