NEW YORK — Testifying in court Monday, Kevin Spacey wept while recounting how he was encouraged to apologize after Anthony Rapp’s sexual assault allegations against him first became public.
Rapp, best known for his roles in Star Trek: Discovery and the original Broadway cast of Rent, first spoke publicly about the alleged incident in a BuzzFeed News story in 2017. In the days that followed, more than a dozen other people also accused Spacey of sexual misconduct. Rapp then brought a civil suit against Spacey, seeking damages for emotional distress and battery, and the trial is now underway in Manhattan federal court. On Monday, Judge Lewis Kaplan agreed with Spacey’s team to dismiss Rapp’s claim of emotional distress, ruling that it was duplicative of his battery claim, which still stands. This move could lower any damages that might be awarded.
Earlier in the trial, Rapp testified that he and Spacey met while they were both acting on Broadway. One night in 1986, he said, Spacey invited him to a party at his apartment, at the end of which he approached Rapp while he was sitting on a bed, “picked [him] up like a groom picks up a bride,” and climbed on top of him.
Throughout the trial, Spacey has repeatedly denied Rapp’s allegations, saying he is “100% confident” it “never occurred.” But in a statement just after the first BuzzFeed News story was published, Spacey did not profess to be so sure.
“I’m beyond horrified to hear this story,” Spacey said at the time. “I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been 30 years ago. 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.”
In his testimony Monday afternoon, Spacey said he regrets making that statement, which he crafted over emails and phone calls with his two publicists. According to Spacey, even though he did not believe the allegations were true, his publicists told him he “had to take it seriously” and “couldn’t push back” so as not to be called a “victim blamer.”
“I was being encouraged to apologize,” Spacey said. “And I’ve learned a lesson, which is never apologize for something you didn’t do.”
Rapp came forward with his story in the wake of the accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein and the explosion of the #MeToo movement. On Monday, Spacey lauded Weinstein’s accusers as having “showed enormous courage and bravery,” but he also said the entertainment industry “was reeling” in the aftermath.
“There was a lot of fear in the air of who would be next,” Spacey said.
Earlier in the day Spacey began his testimony by recounting his early life, which he said was characterized by a “difficult family dynamic.” His father was frequently unemployed, so they moved around a lot. At one point, Spacey said, his dad fell in with some people who “damaged his mind.”
“My father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi,” Spacey said, saying his father would lecture him about his racist beliefs for “hours and hours.” The disclosure was reminiscent of a plotline on House of Cards, in which his character’s late father is found to have ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
“I have never talked about these things publicly — ever,” Spacey said of his admission.
Spacey said his father may have suspected he was gay because of his interest in theater and that he would berate him for it. “He would use an f-word that is very derogatory to the gay community. I won’t say it in court,” he said.
In his 2017 statement, Spacey also came out as gay, saying Rapp’s allegations had encouraged him “to address other things about my life.” Many criticized the timing of his coming out, saying Spacey was using it to deflect the allegations against him.
Spacey said he’d been considering coming out for about a year and a half before Rapp’s allegations and decided to do so at that moment because he “wanted to try to do something positive.”
“But it was not greeted that way,” Spacey said, again breaking down in tears, saying he regretted the decision “within minutes” and now understands the criticism.
“I have to own that,” Spacey said. “It was really wrong, and really bad, and I’m deeply sorry.”