UPDATED, 12:20 PM: The civil trial in Anthony Rapp’s $40 million sexual misconduct lawsuit against Kevin Spacey is in the hands of the jury.
In her closing argument, defense attorney Jennifer Keller revisited the lack of a separate bedroom in Spacey’s studio apartment, a room where Rapp alleges he was sexually assaulted by the two-time Oascar winner in 1986, when Rapp was 14. Keller, who has recovered from a bout with Covid that threatened to disrupt the trial last week, called the Manhattan apartment’s floor plan “the star witness” in the case.
She also hammered away at the contradicting recollections of Rapp and Spacey, saying the gist of the Star Trek: Discovery actor’s allegations are due to his 35-year “vendetta” against the defendant. “There is no evidence that this [sexual misconduct] took place,” Keller said, “and plenty of evidence that it didn’t.”
In making his rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument, the last thing Rapp attorney Richard Steigman said to the jurors was, “I only hope you don’t let [Spacey] get away with it this time.”
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After Judge Lewis Kaplan gave his jury instructions, Keller objected to Steigman’s ending line, telling the judge, “I think there should be some kind of sanction” against Steigman. Kaplan said that the time for that was not now but noted that, should the verdict go against Spacey, the “this line” language could be an issue for any potential appeal. “It shouldn’t have been said,” the judge told the court.
All the while today, Spacey looked intently at the lawyers or jurors, while Rapp mostly stared at the video display in front of him.
The jury will deliberate until 4:30 p.m. ET today, unless it reaches a verdict before then. The courtroom will be dark Friday, so the panel would continue its deliberations Monday, if necessary.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:17 AM: Anthony Rapp’s lawyer told jurors in the Kevin Spacey trial on Thursday that his client told the truth, consistently over time, about being sexually assaulted by the Oscar-winning actor in 1986 even when that truth was “messy” and didn’t always help his case.
In the first round of closing arguments in Rapp’s $40 million sexual misconduct suit, lawyer Richard Steigman said that Spacey’s only defense at trial was to accuse Rapp of carrying on “a 35-year crusade” against a fellow actor based on a lie that has had conveniently shifting motives over the years — from romantic jealousy to professional envy to gay rage to self-promotion — none of which Spacey’s lawyers ever proved.
Saying Rapp “cooked up that lie out of thin air” was, in Steigman’s words, “a defense to a lawsuit: nothing more and nothing less. Because if you’re going to call a guy a liar, then you’ve got to give him a motive.”
The defense will begin its closing argument before Judge Lewis Kaplan this afternoon in Manhattan.
Closing arguments opened with the jury one person down, to 11 members: A juror who aggravated an old back injury and was stuck at home was excused from the case. Deliberations by the remaining 11 jurors are expected to begin this afternoon.
Rapp testified this week that in 1986, when he was 14, a 26-year-old Spacey physically picked him “like a groom picks up a bride,” placed him on a bed in Spacey’s apartment and then climbed on top of him in an attempt to initiate sex.
His sexual misconduct allegations are among several that made Spacey an early focus of the #MeToo movement in 2017. The American Beauty and The Usual Suspects Oscar winner and multiple Emmy nominee for House of Cards also faces trial in the UK for an alleged sexual assault, with that case set for June, and he is on the hook for $31 million awarded to House of Cards producers Media Rights Capital because the claims hastened the end of the show and were deemed a breach of his acting and producing agreements.
Sean Piccoli contributed to this report.