Here’s what’s going on in Kevin Spacey’s legal saga

Actor Kevin Spacey in 2014.
Actor Kevin Spacey in 2014.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Oscar winner Kevin Spacey has been back in the spotlight fighting legal battles stemming from sexual misconduct allegations in the U.S. and abroad.

The former “House of Cards” star, one of the many seemingly untouchable men who fell from grace during the rise of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, had been in the pretrial stages of a Massachusetts case regarding an alleged 2016 groping incident. But on Wednesday prosecutors dropped the case “due to an unavailability of the complaining witness.”

Across the pond, Spacey still faces numerous investigations of misconduct from his tenure as the former artistic director of London’s Old Vic Theatre.


Kevin Spacey was charged with indecent assault and battery last year in the only criminal case that has been brought against the actor since his career collapsed amid a slew of sexual misconduct allegations.

July 17, 2019

Here’s a breakdown and the status of his latest legal woes:


Criminal case: Dismissed

The son of Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh alleged that in July 2016 Spacey plied him with alcohol and sexually assaulted him at the Club Car restaurant in Nantucket, where the then-18-year-old man worked as a busboy. Spacey pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in January.

Actor Kevin Spacey, left, listens to attorney Alan Jackson address the court during a pretrial hearing on June 3, 2019, in Nantucket.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

On July 8, the plaintiff, who prefers to remain unnamed publicly, asserted his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify after being questioned by the actor’s lawyer about text messages the defense claims were deleted. His decision not to testify reportedly led prosecutors to drop the case on July 17. He previously said that he did not delete or alter any of the contents of the phone before handing it over to law enforcement.

However, his mother had admitted to removing content that showed “frat boy activities” from the phone before giving it to law enforcement and told them she had done so. Unruh said she believed she was deleting content that was not relevant to the case.

The dismissed case largely hinged on cellphone evidence that purportedly chronicled the alleged assault with video and text messages. Spacey appeared at a pretrial hearing in June but did not appear in court again.


Another pretrial hearing was devoted to the whereabouts and condition of the young man’s cellphone, which had allegedly gone missing after police said they returned it to the plaintiff’s family.

Man who claims Kevin Spacey groped him invokes right against self-incrimination and refuses to testify »

Their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, also asserted last week that they could not find the phone but had recovered a copy of its contents that were backed up to a computer.

Spacey’s attorney, Alan Jackson, had argued that there could be evidence on the phone that could have exonerated the actor, but since the phone was missing, the defense team was unable to know. He argued that prosecutors failed to safeguard a key piece of evidence in the case and that the case had been “completely compromised” because of it.

Civil case: Dismissed

Former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh speaks at a press conference in Boston on Nov. 8, 2017, during which she accused actor Kevin Spacey of sexually abusing her son in July 2016.
(Jozeph Prezioso / AFP/Getty Images)

The civil case was unusual in that it was filed while the criminal case was ongoing, instead of after it was decided. In early July, the civil case was voluntarily dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning the plaintiff could not refile it. It was unclear if that happened because a settlement had been reached.

However, in a pretrial hearing for Spacey’s criminal case on July 8, the accuser’s attorney, Garabedian, stated for the record that the civil case was dismissed because his client “only wanted one roller coaster ride at a time. [The] criminal case is enough.”

During her testimony in the criminal case on July 8, Unruh added that no settlement had been reached.


Investigations: Ongoing

The Metropolitan Police of London said last week its representatives had traveled to the U.S. where “a man was voluntarily interviewed under caution in America by officers from the Met’s Complex Case Team.” “Under caution” means the interview was recorded and can be used in future prosecutions, the Associated Press reported.

Spacey was not named by the London law enforcement agency because British police don’t identify suspects until they are charged. The actor was not arrested, but inquiries are ongoing. Spacey was reportedly questioned in May.


The Old Vic, which Spacey led between 2004 and 2015, has conducted an investigation into its former leader, saying it received 20 allegations of inappropriate behavior by Spacey and had encouraged 14 of the complainants to go to the police.

Los Angeles

Criminal case: Dismissed

In September 2018, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced that it had declined to file charges against Spacey, as well as action star Steven Seagal and “Black-ish” actor Anthony Anderson, all of whom had been accused of sexual abuse in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

The allegation against Spacey involved an incident in West Hollywood from October 1992. Prosecutors declined to charge Spacey because the alleged incident was beyond the statute of limitations.

Criminal case: Ongoing

A separate harassment case involves an anonymous massage therapist who accused the actor of forcing him to touch his genitals during a treatment in October 2016.


In April, the actor asked the court to either dismiss the lawsuit or order the plaintiff to identify himself. In May, a California federal judge moved to keep the plaintiff’s identity anonymous during this stage of the proceedings.

How it all began

Spacey, 59, came under intense scrutiny in October 2017 after BuzzFeed published a report in which actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey made a sexual advance toward him at a party in 1986, when Rapp was just 14 years old.

Less than three hours after Rapp’s story appeared online, Spacey responded to the allegation on Twitter, apologizing to Rapp, even though he said he did not remember the encounter Rapp alleged. Spacey then revealed that he is gay but was widely criticized for coming out in that moment.

The actor has fallen hard since, and was dismissed from his leading role in Netflix’s “House of Cards.” The critically acclaimed series proceeded with its final season without the the actor and unceremoniously killed off his character, the conniving Frank Underwood. He also was dropped from Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.”

Though Spacey kept a mostly low profile, he appeared in a bizarre video as Underwood shortly after his Nantucket criminal case was filed in December and just before he entered his not-guilty plea in January.

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