Kevin Spacey has pleaded not guilty to groping an 18-year-old restaurant worker in the first criminal case against the disgraced actor after a string of sexual misconduct allegations that crippled his career.
Spacey’s court appearance came more than a year after former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh accused the former House Of Cards star of sexually assaulting her son in a bar on the Massachusetts resort island of Nantucket.
Nantucket District Court Judge Thomas Barrett ordered Spacey to stay away from his accuser and the man’s family.
The Hollywood star will not have to appear at his next hearing on March 4, but must be available by phone, Judge Barrett said.
He also ordered Spacey’s accuser and the man’s then-girlfriend to preserve text messages and other data on their phones from the day of the alleged assault in 2016 and six months after.
Spacey’s lawyer Alan Jackson told the judge they believe the phones contain information that is “likely exculpatory” for Spacey.
The actor and his lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse amid a crush of reporters.
Spacey, wearing a grey suit, navy waistcoat and polka dot tie, did not speak during the hearing and his lawyers entered the not guilty plea on his behalf.
In court documents, his lawyers called the accusations “patently false” and noted that prosecutors have no witnesses to the alleged groping. The lawyers said the teenager lied about his age, “welcomed” drinks bought by Spacey, left the bar with him to smoke a cigarette and gave Spacey his phone number.
“At best, this describes two people engaged in mutual and consensual flirtation, nothing more,” his lawyers wrote.
If convicted of felony indecent assault and battery, the 59-year-old two-time Oscar winner could face as many as five years in prison.
Ms Unruh’s son told police he wanted to get a picture with the star and went over to talk to him after his shift ended at Club Car, a popular island bar and restaurant, according to court documents.
The man said Spacey bought him several drinks and tried to convince him to come home with him before unzipping the man’s trousers and groping him for about three minutes.
The accuser told police he tried to move Spacey’s hands, but the groping continued, and he did not know what to do because he did not want to get in trouble for drinking.
The man said he fled when Spacey went to the toilet.