Prosecutors drop sexual assault case against Kevin Spacey | News | DW | 17.07.2019
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Prosecutors drop sexual assault case against Kevin Spacey

The Hollywood star had been accused of groping a 18-year-old man at a Massachusetts bar in 2016. But the case collapsed after the alleged victim refused to testify.

Prosecutors dropped a sexual assault case Wednesday against Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey after the alleged victim refused to testify about a missing cellphone.

Spacey was charged last year for indecent assault and battery over accusations he groped an 18-year-old man in 2016 at a Nantucket bar where the teen worked as a busboy.

Spacey denied the allegations brought forward by the man's mother, former Boston television anchor Heather Unruh, who claimed the Hollywood star got her son drunk at a bar and then stuck his hands down her son's pants and grabbed his genitals.

The prosecution's case collapsed after the man invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination when questioned about a cellphone he said he lost. The defense argued the phone would provide evidence of Spacey's innocence.

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The man denied deleting messages and screenshots from the cellphone, but when questioned by the defense whether he understood altering evidence is a crime he took the Fifth Amendment.

The judge overseeing the proceedings then said his testimony would be stricken from the record.

Cape and Island District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said prosecutors dropped the case "due to an unavailability of the complaining witness."

The phone has since disappeared. A police officer who extracted information from the phone said he returned it, but the family claimed they never received it.

Unruh, the alleged victim's mother, admitted she had deleted some embarrassing photos before giving the phone to police, but claimed she had not erased anything related to the alleged assault.

More than a dozen men have come forward to claim they were victims of unwanted sexual advances by Spacey over the years in the United States and Britain. The case in Massachusetts was the only criminal case brought against the actor.

The slew of allegations came after actor Anthony Rapp two years ago accused Spacey of trying to seduce him in 1986 when Rapp was 14.

In October 2017, Spacey apologized for any "inappropriate drunken behavior" towards Rapp but said he did not recall the encounter. He used the statement to come out as gay.

The sexual allegations led Netflix to drop Spacey from the last season of "House of Cards" and resulted in his removal from Ridley Scott's 2017 movie "All the Money in the World."

Spacey is one of many men from media, finance, politics and entertainment to be hit by sexual misconduct scandals in the wake of accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which spawned the global #Metoo movement.

cw/bw (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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