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Will Kevin Spacey Face Legal Consequences?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

In a roundabout statement that ended with him coming out as gay, Kevin Spacey conceded he may have made sexual advances on actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was just 14 years old. The statement caused furor in LGBTQ communities, bolstered more accusers to come forward, and led to the end of Spacey's popular Netflix drama "House of Cards."

While Spacey's reputation has certainly been damaged, will Rapp's allegations or Spacey's apology lead to any legal consequences for the actor?

Criminal Charges

Rapp told Buzzfeed that Spacey had him over to his New York apartment for a party in 1986, and at one point picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him. While there is no statute of limitations on rape in New York, criminal charges or civil lawsuits involving attempted statutory rape must be filed within five years of the victim turning 18.

So Spacey is unlikely to face any criminal charges relating to the incident.

Civil Liability

His statement in response to the allegations may have also kept him out of hot water in regards to a civil lawsuit as well:

I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I'm beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.
This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly that starts with examining my own behavior.

Spacey is careful to both not admit knowledge of or guilt in regards to the accusation and also not deny the claim or call Rapp a liar. And as we've seen in the case of Bill Cosby, calling allegations "false and outlandish" or "a lie" can invite a defamation lawsuit.

Although drunkenness would be no defense, civilly or criminally, given the statutes of limitation and Spacey's carefully worded statement, he is also unlikely to face a civil lawsuit, at least in regards to the incident with Rapp. That may not hold true if, as it seems will be the case, more accusers come forward.

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