Kevin Spacey’s lawyers have repeatedly suggested that Anthony Rapp accused the House of Cards actor of sexual assault because he was jealous of Spacey’s career.
While cross-examining Rapp, defense attorney Jennifer Keller detailed a laundry list of awards Spacey has won over his decades on stage and screen, emphasizing that Rapp has not achieved the same caliber of accolades.
“Do you really expect us to believe you’re not envious [of Spacey’s career]?” Keller asked Rapp. “You wanted to be that person, didn’t you?”
Spacey faces a civil lawsuit brought by Rapp, who says a 26-year-old Spacey assaulted him when he was 14. Rapp testified that he and Spacey first met in 1986 while they were both acting on Broadway. One night, 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 me up like a groom picks up a bride,” and climbed on top of him.
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. Among them was Harry Dreyfuss, son of the Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, and a production assistant on Netflix’s House of Cards, of which Spacey was the star until he was fired over the numerous allegations against him.
In his testimony, Rapp called the alleged assault “the most traumatic single event” of his life.
Lisa Rocchio, a clinical and forensic psychologist who examined Rapp in January 2021 and testified about her findings, said multiple tests showed he met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. His symptoms were “absolutely” consistent with the effects of childhood sexual abuse, she said.
But Spacey’s lawyers have argued that Rapp made his allegations “to raise [his] profile” and could have faked PTSD symptoms as a way of “gaining sympathy” and respect from his peers.
They also suggested he has used his skills as an actor in order to convince others his trauma is real. Rocchio confirmed Rapp had “tears in his eyes” during points of the psychological evaluation, but Chase Scolnick, another one of Spacey’s lawyers, cast doubt on his emotional response.
“Mr. Rapp, you understand, is an actor, right?” Scolnick asked Rocchio during cross-examination.
Much of the defense’s questioning has surrounded why decades passed before Rapp spoke out publicly about the alleged assault. They particularly emphasized that Rapp didn’t tell his therapist until shortly before his story became public, but Rapp said this was because his appointments were infrequent and focused specifically on his relationship with his now-husband. This wouldn’t actually be unusual, according to Rocchio, who confirmed when asked by Rapp’s lawyers that the “phenomenon of delayed disclosure in cases of childhood sexual abuse” is quite common.
Over the years, Rapp disclosed the allegations to numerous friends and family members, several of whom were deposed ahead of the trial. Christopher Hart, Rapp’s close friend from middle and high school, testified that Rapp told him about it at a sleepover just weeks after it occurred.
In an April court filing, Spacey “categorically” denied Rapp’s allegations, calling them “absolutely false” and stating that he “never had a sexual encounter with Mr. Rapp.”
But in a statement immediately after Rapp’s 2017 accusation, Spacey did not deny the incident had occurred but said he does not remember it and apologized to Rapp.
“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.”
Spacey also came out as gay in his statement, saying Rapp’s allegations had encouraged him “to address other things about [his] life.” Many criticized the announcement, saying Spacey was using it to deflect from the allegations against him.
The court adjourned late Thursday afternoon and is expected to reconvene on Monday.
Earlier on Thursday, the trial was nearly thrown into chaos after Spacey’s defense team revealed that Keller, one of the attorneys, had tested positive for COVID-19. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan considered tabling proceedings for several days until Keller’s close contacts — who included all of Spacey’s legal team, the jury, and Spacey himself — were confirmed to not be infected. But since all of the contacts said they were fully vaccinated, Kaplan said the case could continue as long as they all wore masks and provided the results of two COVID-19 tests to the court.