Two weeks into a trial in London, the Oscar-winning actor gave his account of sexual encounters that the prosecution says were criminal acts.
Kevin Spacey told a British jury on Thursday that he was “a big flirt” who had what he characterized 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 “crushed” when the man accused him of assault.
Two weeks into a sexual assault trial in London against the Oscar- and Tony Award-winning actor, Mr. Spacey’s testimony on Thursday was the first time that the jury heard from him directly.
Mr. Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges relating to incidents that the prosecution says involved four men and occurred from 2001 to 2013. For most of that time, Mr. Spacey was the artistic director of the Old Vic theater in London.
Sitting at the front of a courtroom at Southwark Crown Court and facing the jury, Mr. Spacey — who was wearing 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 “delights in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable.” He had 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 after 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 may cause them to be identified. The jury first watched recordings of interviews that each complainant gave to British police officers, then the accuser was cross-examined in the courthouse.
The first complainant said in his police interview that, in the early 2000s, Mr. Spacey touched him multiple 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 veered off the road.
On Thursday, the day’s opening 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 pair’s encounters gradually “became somewhat sexual,” Mr. Spacey said, adding that this most likely occurred at the actor’s own initiation. Mr. Spacey said the pair never had sex. The complainant “made it clear he didn’t want to go any further,” Mr. Spacey added. He said he had respected the complainant’s boundaries.
Mr. Gibbs then asked Mr. Spacey to recall how he felt when he learned that the complainant accused him of assault. Mr. Spacey said he had been “crushed” and it felt like the complainant had stabbed him in the back. The court then adjourned for a break.