Prosecutors in Massachusetts have dropped a sexual assault charge that had been brought against actor Kevin Spacey.
The decision came after Spacey’s accuser invoked his right to avoid self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, so he could not provide testimony needed for the case to proceed, ABC News reports.
“The complaining witness was informed that if he chose to continue to invoke his Fifth Amendment right, the case would not be able to go forward,” Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said in a statement released today. “After a further period of reflection privately with his lawyer, the complaining witness elected not to waive his right under the Fifth Amendment.”
The accuser had said that while working in a summer job as a busboy at a bar and restaurant on Nantucket Island in 2016, he met Spacey, who gave him several alcoholic drinks and then groped his genitals. Prosecutors charged Spacey with one felony count of indecent assault and battery.
The accuser, who was 18 at the time but admitted he told Spacey he was 23, “told investigators that while Spacey was touching him, he was texting and communicating with his girlfriend and other friends on Snapchat and sent his girlfriend a Snapchat video of Spacey groping him, according to the criminal complaint,” ABC reports. He claimed Spacey groped his genitals for about three minutes.
In pretrial hearings, however, it came out that the accuser’s mother, former Boston TV news anchor Heather Unruh, had deleted data from the phone that could potentially clear Spacey. She acknowledged that she deleted information on her son’s “frat boy activities” before giving the phone to law enforcement, Boston TV station WBZ reports. Spacey’s defense team sought to obtain the phone to build their case, but the device now seems to have disappeared. An investigator said he gave it back to the accuser’s family, but they said they do not have it.
When the accuser was on the witness stand July 8, Spacey’s attorney Alan Jackson asked him if he knew it was a crime to alter evidence, such as by deleting data from a cell phone. The young man said he did not know that, and after a recess, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right and ended his testimony. Prosecutors decided to drop the charge after they met with the accuser and his family last Sunday.
Spacey, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, has been accused by numerous men of sexual assault and other misconduct since actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed in 2017 that Spacey had attempted to seduce him at a party in 1986, when Spacey was 26 and Rapp 14, with the older man carrying Rapp to a bed and getting on top of him. Spacey said he did not recall the alleged incident with Rapp but said if it did occur, he was sorry for “inappropriate drunken behavior.” Spacey came out as gay in response to Rapp’s 2017 interview.
The Nantucket accusation is the only one that has resulted in a criminal charge to date. The accuser in the case had also filed a civil suit against Spacey but dropped it about two weeks ago; his attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, had said it was dropped because his client was on an emotional roller coaster.
In the wake of the many allegations, Spacey’s career imploded. He was fired from the hit Netflix series House of Cards, and he was edited out of the film All the Money in the World, with his footage reshot with Christopher Plummer.
Garabedian released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, “My client and his family have shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances. “I have no further comment at this time.”
There is no record so far of comment by Spacey’s team.