The prosecution has opened its case in the Kevin Spacey trial with claims the actor was a “sexual bully” who “delights in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable”, and whose “preferred method of assault” was to “grab” other men “aggressively in the crotch”.
Spacey is in court in the UK on 12 charges – including three of indecent assault and seven of sexual assault – in relation to four men.
Read more: Kevin Spacey trial – as it happened
In a short session lasting just an hour-and-a-half, prosecutor Christine Agnew described the allegations of four men who claim to have been sexually assaulted by the actor.
The 63-year-old star – who was present in court – was described by Ms Agnew as “a famous actor who has won a number of awards,” and by one of his alleged victims as “a star, a golden boy”.
The two-time Oscar winner is known for roles in productions such as House of Cards, American Beauty and The Usual Suspects.
The relevance of Spacey’s fame was flagged early on, with the prosecution warning the jury not to become “star struck” or “overwhelmed,” while the defence said the trial would offer “insights into both sides of fame”, including “the way people act towards you” when you are famous.
The court also heard from the statements of the four victims – none of whom are known to one another according to the prosecution – and who will remain anonymous in coverage of the case.
Ms Agnew said: “None of the men wanted to be touched by Kevin Spacey Fowler in a sexual way, but he doesn’t seem to have cared very much for their feelings.
“He did what he wanted to do for his own personal sexual gratification.”
‘Getting angry simply turned him on’
The first alleged victim, who worked with Spacey in the early 2000s in London, said the actor touched him inappropriately on numerous occasions and at one point “grabbed him so hard” while he was driving that he nearly drove off the road.
He said he asked Spacey on numerous occasions not to touch him, but added Spacey laughed at his request, and he believed “his getting angry simply turned him on”.
He said Spacey seemed “confident” he wouldn’t tell anyone about the alleged assaults.
The alleged victim added he thinks that could have been due to his reputation as a “worldwide star,” or possibly considering he would be “too embarrassed, too ashamed” to make a complaint.
The second alleged victim, who met Spacey at a charity event in London in 2005, said Spacey made many inappropriate comments and said sexual things to him out of the earshot of others, before allegedly grabbing his penis with “such force it was painful”.
The alleged victim said he told a friend about it around a week later, but told no one else.
Claims of unwanted sex act, advances and groping
The third alleged victim, who said he successfully auditioned for a show being put on at the Old Vic Theatre and later approached Spacey as a mentor, described going for a drink at his flat.
He said he woke up to find Spacey allegedly carrying out an unwanted act of oral sex.
He said Spacey told him not to mention what had happened or that he had been to his flat, and added he left in shock, later crying at a bus stop.
The fourth alleged victim, who met Spacey in a village pub in late 2017 when the actor came in with his dog, said that after inviting him and a friend back to the expensive house in which he was staying, Spacey kissed his neck and grabbed his crotch.
He said he left the house in “a panicky state” and called his father to tell him what had happened.
The men were all in their 20s to early 30s when the alleged assaults took place and all the alleged incidents are said to have happened between 2001 and 2013 – a time when Spacey was working and living mainly in the UK.
Prosecution: Spacey ‘took what and who he wanted’
The prosecution said Spacey would claim some of the allegations were “made up” and that others were “consensual”.
She also told the jury it would be their job to decide whether the alleged victims were either “courageous” in coming forward now, or “lying” in order to benefit financially.
Ms Agnew concluded: “Kevin Spacey Fowler abused the power and influence that his reputation and fame afforded him; taking advantage of his popularity and prominence, his illustriousness and influence.
“Taking what and who he wanted when he wanted.”
Defence warns jury to expect ‘damned lies’
Meanwhile, in a brief statement, the defence – led by Patrick Gibbs – said Spacey had returned to the UK to answer the allegations against him, and “say in full in due course what actually happened”.
He warned the jury they would hear “some truths,” “some half-truths,” “some deliberate exaggerations” and “many damned lies” during evidence.
Spacey is facing 12 charges – all of which he denies.
They are: four counts of sexual assault; three counts of indecent assault; three counts of sexual assault; one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent and one of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity.
This last charge is the most serious, and carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The case will continue at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Monday, with the full trial set to last around four weeks.
Spacey has been granted unconditional bail.