Kevin Spacey arraigned on sex assault charge in Nantucket court

The Oscar-winning actor is accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old busboy.

January 7, 2019, 12:23 PM

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey appeared before a Massachusetts judge Monday and was arraigned on a felony charge of indecent assault and battery on an 18-year-old busboy at a Nantucket bar.

Spacey, 59, and his attorney, Alan Jackson, entered the municipal building that was packed with spectators and media about 10:45 a.m. He arrived in a silver SUV after landing at the local airport in a private jet.

Spacey was dressed in a gray suit, a floral-patterned shirt, sweater vest and dark polka-dot tie for the brief hearing. He did not verbally enter a plea, but a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf by the court, according to court records filed after the hearing.

Judge Thomas Barrett, addressing Spacey by his real name, Kevin S. Fowler, ordered the actor to stay away from the alleged victim in the case and the victim's family.

PHOTO: Kevin Spacey arrives to face a sexual assault charge at Nantucket District Court in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 7, 2019.
Kevin Spacey arrives to face a sexual assault charge at Nantucket District Court in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 7, 2019.
Brian Snyder/Reuters

His next court date was scheduled for March 4. Spacey does not have to attend the hearing but must be available by phone, Barrett said in court.

Barrett warned Spacey to stay out of trouble.

"If you're charged with another offense while this matter is open, you could be held in jail for 90 days," Barrett said.

Spacey didn’t speak but acknowledged the warning by nodding affirmatively.

Jackson asked the judge to order that "data" in the case be preserved -- likely a reference to a Snapchat video the alleged victim took in 2016, which allegedly shows Spacey groping the young man. The actor’s attorneys have viewed the video and contended in previous court hearings that it simply shows one person's hand on another person’s stomach area.

Jackson called the data potentially "exculpatory."

"I simply don't want to see any of that data deleted or destroyed,” Jackson said. “Put a bubble around that data so it doesn't get destroyed."

PHOTO: Kevin Spacey appears in court in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 7, 2019.
Kevin Spacey appears in court in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 7, 2019.
ABC News

Spacey left the court after signing paperwork agreeing to stay away from the alleged victim. He did not make a statement to reporters gathered outside.

He attended the hearing after a judge denied his attorneys' request last month for the actor to skip his appearance at the arraignment, arguing in a court motion that his presence at the hearing would “amplify the negative publicity already generated in connection with this case” and taint a potential jury pool, according to court records.

PHOTO: Kevin Spacey appears in court in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 7, 2019.
Kevin Spacey appears in court in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 7, 2019.
ABC News

Mitchell Garabedian, a civil attorney for the alleged victim, who is now 20, released a brief statement praising his client for coming forward to police and setting an example for all sexual assault victims.

"By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted," Garabedian, best known for representing sexual abuse victims by Catholic priests in the Boston area, said in the statement.

The 105-square-mile island has yet to see a court case that has drawn as much media attention as Spacey's brief appearance on Monday -- the only day of the week that court is in session during the winter. The island's lone courtroom is on the second floor of a municipal building near the ferry dock.

By Sunday evening, the municipal building was surrounded by camera crews and the few island restaurants open during the winter were filled mostly with journalists.

The Cape and Islands State Police Detective Unit launched an investigation into the former "House of Cards" actor after a young man contacted them by phone in October 2016 and alleged that Spacey plied him with beer and whiskey after meeting him at the Club Car in Nantucket, where he had worked that summer as a busboy, and sexually assaulted him, according to a criminal complaint filed in Nantucket District Court "against Kevin S. Fowler, also known as Kevin Spacey.”

‘Let's get drunk’

In a subsequent face-to-face interview with detectives, the young man said he hung around the bar after he finished work on July 7, 2016, talked to Spacey and even got an autograph from the actor for himself and his girlfriend.

"Things started to get a little fuzzy when [the alleged victim] and Spacey went over to the piano" at the Club Car, the criminal complaint reads.

The alleged victim told investigators he "had at least four or five beers before Spacey allegedly suggested that they should switch to whiskey. Spacey also allegedly told the victim "Let's get drunk," according to the complaint.

The alleged victim admitted he lied to Spacey about his age, saying he was a 23-year-old college student attending Wake Forest University, the complaint states.

PHOTO: Kevin Spacey stands in district court as his attorney Alan Jackson, right, addresses the judge during an  arraignment hearing, Jan. 7, 2019, in Nantucket, Mass.
Kevin Spacey stands in district court as his attorney Alan Jackson, right, addresses the judge during an arraignment hearing, Jan. 7, 2019, in Nantucket, Mass.
Nicole Harnishfeger/The Inquirer and Mirror via AP

He said Spacey tried to get him to go back to where the actor was staying on popular summertime island, but he repeatedly declined the invitation, the complaint says.

At one point during the night, he and Spacey were near the bar's piano when he alleged Spacey started rubbing his thigh and then unzipped the victim’s pants and began groping his genitals, the complaint alleges.

The busboy told detectives "he wasn't sure if Spacey went into his pants through the open zipper," or if the actor groped his genitals over his pants and boxer shorts, according to the complaint.

He said while Spacey was touching him, the alleged victim was texting and communicating with his girlfriend on Snapchat, and even sent her Snapchat video of Spacey groping him, according to the complaint. He alleged the inappropriate touching occurred for about three minutes, the complaint reads.

The alleged victim told detectives that when Spacey went to the restroom, a woman came up to him and noticed that he was in distress. He said that when he told the woman that Spacey was "trying to rape" him, the woman told him to leave, according to the complaint.

The busboy said he ran to his grandmother's house where he was spending the summer and woke up his younger sister to tell her what happened.

He said the next day he told his mother, a former TV news anchor in Boston, and she told him to report the incident to police, according to the complaint.

PHOTO: The Club Car in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 6, 2019.
The Club Car in Nantucket, Mass., Jan. 6, 2019.
Chris Francescani/ABC News

Detectives also interviewed the owner of the bar and several employees and customers, but none of them witnessed Spacey doing anything inappropriate with the alleged victim, according to the complaint.

If convicted, the actor could face up to five years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.

‘An incredibly long time’

During a recorded hearing last month, defense attorneys, whose efforts to have the charge dismissed for lack of evidence at the show-cause hearing were unsuccessful, nevertheless previewed the actor’s defense during the recorded hearing last month, and sharply disputing the alleged victim’s account.

The audio recording was first reported on by the Boston Globe and more recently obtained by ABC News.

At the hearing, defense attorneys contended that the alleged victim didn’t immediately report the incident to authorities and wasn’t interviewed in person for more than a year, according to the tape.

Spacey attorney Alan Jackson contended that the alleged victim told authorities that he drank between eight and 10 drinks, including beer and whiskey, and may have blacked out shortly after Spacey allegedly groped him.

That’s an incredibly long time to have a strange man’s hand in your pants, correct?

Jackson also argued during the recorded hearing that the Snapchat video merely shows someone’s hand touching another person’s shirt.

Finally, Jackson zeroed in on the alleged victim’s claim that Spacey groped his crotch for three minutes, but that he neither moved away nor verbally objected, according to the newspaper.

“That’s an incredibly long time to have a strange man’s hand in your pants, correct?” Jackson asked a state police investigator.

“I would agree with that, yes,” the state police investigator replied, according to the newspaper.

The alleged victim told investigators that the bar was crowded and he couldn't move away, according to the report. He also said, according to the report, that he didn't know what to do and didn't want to "get in trouble at work."

‘Let Me Be Frank’

The alleged victim's mother held a press conference in November 2017.

"The victim, my son, was a star-struck, 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," she told reporters. "Kevin Spacey bought him drink after drink after drink, and when my son was drunk, Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him."

On Christmas Eve, Spacey posted a 3-minute YouTube video of himself on his verified Twitter account, speaking in the voice of his former character on "House of Card," Frank Underwood.

The video is titled, "Let Me Be Frank."

"I shocked you with my honesty, but mostly I challenged you and made you think. And you trusted me even though you knew you shouldn't," Spacey, wearing an apron with Santa Claus figures on it, said in the video. "So we're not done no matter what anyone says. Besides I know what you want, you want me back. Of course, some believed everything and have just been waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all. They're just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved."

"But you wouldn't believe the worst without evidence, would you? You wouldn’t rush to judgment without facts, would you? Did you? No, not you. You’re smarter than that," Spacey went on. "Of course they're going to say I'm being disrespectful, not playing by the rules, like I ever played by anyone's rules before. I never did and you loved it."

In October 2017, actor Anthony Rapp claimed in a BuzzFeed interview that Spacey made sexual advances toward him at a party in 1986 when he was 14 and Spacey was 26. When the story was made public, Spacey posted a statement on Twitter saying he is "beyond horrified" by the story but doesn't remember the encounter.

He went on to say he was examining himself and now chooses "to [openly] live as a gay man."

Spacey issued an apology to Rapp but claimed he didn't remember the incident.

"But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years," Spacey said in his statement at the time.

Following the allegations by Rapp and the accusations made by the Nantucket teen, the producers of "House of Cards" announced they were severing ties with Spacey. The Netflix show returned for its final season absent Spacey's character.

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