Kevin Spacey was found not guilty of molesting actor Anthony Rapp in 1986 by a jury.
On Thursday, actor Kevin Spacey appeared in federal court in New York City for a civil trial. Ted Shaffrey/AP
NEW YORK — On Thursday, a jury ruled in favor of Kevin Spacey in one of the lawsuits that have dogged the actor's career, concluding that he did not sexually assault Anthony Rapp, then 14, while both were relatively unknown performers in Broadway shows in the 1980s.
The judgement in the civil trial was delivered in record time. Jurors in a federal court in New York debated for slightly more than an hour before concluding that Rapp's accusations had not been substantiated.
When the decision was delivered, Spacey bowed his head and hugged his attorneys. He didn't say anything to reporters as he walked out of the courthouse.
Rapp stated during the trial that Spacey brought him to his residence for a party, then approached him in a bedroom after the other attendees had departed. He said the actor, who was 26 at the time, pulled him up and momentarily laid on top of him on a bed.
Rapp claimed that when an inebriated Spacey inquired if he was sure he wanted to go, he wriggled away and ran.
Spacey told the jury in sometimes heartbreaking evidence that it never happened and that he would never have been drawn to someone who was 14.
The lawsuit demanded $40 million in restitution.
Rapp's lawyer, Richard Steigman, accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand in his closing comments to the jury on Thursday.
"He lacks credibility," remarked Steigman. "The straightforward truth is sometimes the best. The basic fact is that this occurred."
After the trial, Spacey's lawyer, Jennifer Keller, stated that the defense was "extremely appreciative to the jury for seeing through these bogus charges."
During closing arguments, she informed jurors that Rapp made up the incident and offered reasons why Rapp imagined or made up the meeting with Spacey.
She speculated that Rapp devised it after seeing him appear in "Precious Sons," a play in which actor Ed Harris lifts up Rapp's character and sleeps on top of him, mistaking him for his wife until realizing it is his son.
She also claimed that Rapp was envious of Spacey's success as a megastar while he had "minor roles in tiny productions" following his breakout performance in Broadway's "Rent."
"So here we are today, and Mr. Rapp is receiving more publicity from this trial than he has throughout his whole acting career," Keller explained.
During the three-week trial, Rapp, 50, and Spacey, 63, both testified for many days.
Rapp's and others' allegations shattered what had been a booming career for the two-time Academy Award winner, who was fired from the Netflix series "House of Cards" and had other prospects dry up. Rapp has been in "Star Trek: Discovery" and was a member of the original Broadway cast of "Rent."
At Massachusetts, Spacey was accused of groping a guy in a pub, claims that were eventually dismissed by prosecutors.
He pleaded not guilty in London three months ago to allegations that he sexually abused three men between 2004 and 2015 while serving as creative director of the Old Vic theater.
This July, a judge in Los Angeles upheld an arbitrator's decision to force Spacey to pay $30.9 million to the producers of "House of Cards" for breaching his contract by sexually assaulting staff members.
The Associated Press normally does not name persons accused of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Rapp has.
During the trial, Spacey testified that he was certain the contact with Rapp did not occur, in part because he was living in a studio apartment rather than the one bedroom mentioned by Rapp, and he had never hosted a gathering other than a housewarming party.
"I knew I wouldn't have sexual feelings for Anthony Rapp or any of his children. That I was aware of, "He informed the jury.
During two days of testimony, Spacey also expressed sorrow for a statement he released when Rapp initially went public, in which he stated that he didn't recall the incident, but that if it did occur, "I offer him the most heartfelt apologies for what would have been extremely inappropriate intoxicated conduct."
With a tear in his hand, Spacey claimed he was urged by publicists and attorneys to release a sympathetic statement at a time when the #MeToo movement was making everyone in the business uneasy.
"I've learnt a valuable lesson: never apologize for something you did not do," he remarked.
He also sobbed as he stated he regretted openly declaring his sexual orientation on the same day Rapp's charges appeared since some viewed his declaration as an attempt to alter the subject or detract from Rapp's discoveries.
Spacey stated that he spoke about very personal topics throughout the trial, telling the jury that his father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi who berated him for being gay because he admired the theater.
Spacey also offered the courtroom a taste of his acting abilities when he briefly resembled his Broadway costar at the time, Jack Lemon. He has previously stated that his ability to do impressions helped him in his acting profession.