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Kevin Spacey Must Face New York Lawsuit Accusing Him of Sexually Abusing Then-14-Year-Old Anthony Rapp Decades Ago

Kevin Spacey via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey must face a lawsuit by fellow actor Anthony Rapp accusing the Hollywood star of sexually abusing him while he was 14 years old, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Rapp, best known for originating the role of Mark in Jonathan Larson’s Broadway musical Rent, claims that Spacey made a brief but unwanted advance toward him during a party at Spacey’s home in 1986.

Court papers refer to The Usual Suspects and House of Cards star by his full name: Kevin Spacey Fowler.

“Very briefly stated, Mr. Rapp claims that Mr. Fowler lifted him up, that Mr. Fowler’s hand his ‘grazed’ Mr. Rapp’s clothed buttock for seconds as he did so, that Mr. Fowler placed Mr. Rapp back down on a bed, and Mr. Fowler then briefly placed his own clothed body partially beside and partially across Mr. Rapp’s,” Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his 7-page ruling. “Mr. Rapp ‘wriggled out,’ got up, and left the premises. Mr. Rapp testified at his deposition that there was no kissing, no undressing, no reaching under clothes, and no sexualized statements or innuendo. He acknowledges that the entire incident took no more than two minutes.”

Before Rapp left the apartment, he said, Spacey stood in the doorway and said: “Are you sure you want to go?”

In 2020, Rapp sued Spacey under New York’s Child Victims Act, which lifted the statute of limitations for filing claims alleging the sexual abuse of minors.

Spacey’s lawyers wrote that their client “vehemently denies” Rapp’s allegations.

“Plaintiff’s allegations are, quite simply, false and never occurred,” they wrote in a motion for summary judgment. But they argued that, accepted at face value, the 36-year-old allegations failed as a matter of law.

Rapp’s attorneys skewered Spacey’s attempts to “minimize” the alleged actions.

“While denying Mr. Rapp’s claims, Defendant also attempts to minimize the acts of sexual abuse,” his attorney Peter J. Saghir wrote in a legal brief. “According to the Defendant, a grown man who picks up a minor child, lays him down on a bed, and presses his groin into the child is not evidence that a touching occurred and that the acts were performed for sexual gratification pursuant to Article 130 of New York’s Penal Law.”

On Monday, Judge Kaplan mostly sided with Rapp, denying the bulk of Spacey’s motion. Kaplan noted that he had to advance the case if he found, in the light most favorable to Rapp, that the jury had a genuine issue of material fact to decide.

Kaplan said it was for the jury to decide whether Spacey allegedly acted “for the purpose of gratifying… sexual desire.”

Since the Child Victims Act only lifted the statute of limitations on sexual offenses, the judge found that Rapp’s common law assault allegation failed. The same was not true of allegations of third-degree sexual abuse, however.

Late last month, Spacey was criminally charged in the U.K. with sexually assaulting three men there. Spacey reportedly indicated that he will travel there voluntarily to face those charges. The lawsuit filed by Rapp is a civil case.

An attorney for Spacey did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment. Rapp’s lawyer declined to comment. Trial is scheduled for Oct. 4.

Read the ruling, below:

(Photo via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."