Kevin Spacey told a British jury on Thursday that he was a “big flirt” who had what he described as gentle, touching and romantic encounters with a man who accused him of sexual assault. He always respected the man’s boundaries, Mr. Spacey said, adding that he felt “oppressed” when the man accused him of assault.
Two weeks into the London sexual assault trial of the Oscar- and Tony Award-winning actor, Mr Spacey’s testimony on Thursday was the first time the jury heard from him directly.
Mr. Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges related to incidents that the prosecution says involved four men and took place from 2001 to 2013. During most of that time, Mr. Spacey was the artistic director from the Old Vic theater in London. .
Sitting at the front of the courtroom at Southwark Crown Court and facing the jury, Mr Spacey – who wore a gray suit and light blue tie – was calm and occasionally joked with his legal representative, Patrick Gibbs.
Opening the trial last month, Christine Agnew, a British prosecutor, told the jury that Mr Spacey was a “sexual bully” who “delighted in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable.” He repeatedly groped men, Ms Agnew said. On one occasion, Ms. Agnew added, Mr. Spacey gave a man oral sex without that man’s consent.
In the days following Ms Agnew’s opening, the jury heard from the four anonymous complainants. Under British law, it is illegal for anyone to identify complainants in sexual assault cases, or to publish information that can lead to them being identified. The jury first watched recordings of interviews that each complainant gave to British police officers, then the plaintiff was cross-examined in court.
The first complainant said in his police interview that, in the early 2000s, Mr. Spacey touched him several times. On one occasion, the complainant said, he was driving with Mr. Spacey to a ball organized by Elton John, and the actor grabbed his genitals so hard that he almost swerved off the road.
On Thursday, the day’s open session focused on Mr. Spacey’s recollection of those encounters and the actor discussed his relationship with that complainant. Leaning back in his chair, and sounding wistful, he said the man was “friendly and charming and flirtatious.”
The couple’s encounters gradually “became a bit sexual,” Mr. Spacey said, adding that it most likely happened at the actor’s own instigation. Mr. Spacey said the couple never had sex. The complainant “made it clear he didn’t want to go any further,” Mr Spacey added. He said he respected the complainant’s boundaries.
Mr. Gibbs then asked Mr. Spacey to recall how he felt when he learned that the complainant had accused him of attempted murder. Mr Spacey said he was “crushed” and felt the complainant had stabbed him in the back. The court then adjourned for recess.