Kevin Spacey called ‘big sexual bully’ in testy exchanges at assault trial

Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (Getty Images)
Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (Getty Images)

Southwark Crown Court is not a glamorous place. The metal detectors are made of flimsy grey plastic, the lifts travel at a snail’s pace and the lights are the fluorescent kind you find in offices and hospital wards. All this to say it is not a place typically frequented by Hollywood stars so it is tough to envisage a two-time Oscar-winner walking these halls … until Kevin Spacey does exactly that.

The actor was taking the stand on the third week of his ongoing sexual assault trial, at which he faces allegations from four accusers, including unwanted touching and aggressive fondling.

He pleaded not guilty in January to three counts of indecent assault, three counts of sexual assault and one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

The first sign this is not a typical day at Southwark Crown Court is the photographers outside. The second is the 50 or so reporters and members of the public waiting patiently outside courtroom one.  The strangeness endures as the man in front of me plays Candy Crush. When Spacey does enter the room at 9.52am, dressed in a dark navy suit, matching tie and a bracelet on his wrist, it is entirely without fanfare or attention – so little, in fact, that it takes time for anyone to notice he is there.

Court artist sketch of Spacey being cross examined by Christine Agnew KC (PA)
Court artist sketch of Spacey being cross examined by Christine Agnew KC (PA)

The prosecution wastes no time in making sure the jury does not forget the seriousness of the allegations lodged against the star, which include a claim that Spacey performed oral sex on an unconsenting man who was sleeping at the time. Within minutes, the two are engaged in a barbed back-and-forth about what constitutes “crotch grab” – a term thrown around a lot during this trial.

Spacey says he objects to the term, and to some of the questions from prosecutor Christine Agnew KC. On more than one occasion, the judge interjects to remind Spacey to answer her questions. “If the question is improper, I will stop it,” he says.

The actor is asked about allegations he aggressively grabbed a man backstage at a charity event in a theatre. “Absolute b******s!” Spacey replies. "Yes, because that’s exactly where you did grab him, isn’t it?” Agnew snaps back.

Spacey denies the charges against him (AP)
Spacey denies the charges against him (AP)

Elsewhere, the actor is more cordial and relaxed. He makes sure to thank both the jury and the judge separately before adjourning for lunch to watch witnesses testify on his behalf.

It is surprising, given the circumstances, that laughter in the public gallery is not an infrequent occurrence.  Questioned on why one complainant may make accusations, he responds with dramatic flair: “Money… money… and then… money.”

There are chuckles, too, when Spacey shrugs nonchalantly about the “little bowl of spliffs” at his house. “I like to get high,” he shrugs. The actor earns a particularly warm reception when he jokingly declares “Welcome to life!” when asked if he has ever reached out for sex when feeling lonely.

While there are no tears shed Spacey does become emotional when speaking about an alleged incident in which he is accused of making offensive and aggressive comments about oral sex. “There are deeply personal reasons why I would never and have never spoken to a human being in the way that [is being] claimed,” he says. “It is deeply personal to me.”

He appears pained but also exasperated, frequently sighing into the microphone.  Later, he tells Ms Agnew: “You don’t know anything about me and my life.” She replies, cooly: “I am the prosecutor. It would be quite improper for me to know you in any way.”

The prosecution refers back to the actor’s earlier testimony. “You suggested yesterday that you are just a ‘big flirt’. I’m going to suggest you are wrong about that,” she says. “What you are is just a big sexual bully.” Pausing for a moment, Spacey retorts: “Yes, that’s your term.”

The trial continues.