Kevin Spacey Pleads Not Guilty To Groping Man In Nantucket Restaurant

In an arraignment this morning at Nantucket District Court in Massachusetts, actor and producer Kevin Spacey pleaded not guilty to a charge of groping an 18-year-old man in July 2016.

Wearing a patterned shirt and tie with a vested gray suit, Spacey appeared next to his attorney, Alan Jackson, in the tiny courtroom, occasionally smiling as the two talked before the gavel sounded. Nantucket District Court Judge Thomas Barrett set March 4 for a pre-trial hearing and said Spacey would not be required to attend in person. Spacey agreed not to have any contact with the alleged victim during the months to come. The defendant never spoke during the 15-minute arraignment.

Barrett also heard brief arguments from prosecutors regarding cell phone messages exchanged between the victim and his girlfriend. The judge eventually granted their wish to limit the scope of those messages to the six-month period after the alleged groping incident, a narrower scope than that requested by Spacey’s defense team.

The cobblestone streets around the courthouse were filled with TV trucks, and media outlets live-streamed Spacey’s “perp walk” on the internet. Photographers bundled up against the windy, 27-degree chill, and the images showed the doors of the red-brick courthouse still decorated with Christmas wreaths. The arraignment would have been newsy anywhere but on the island of Nantucket, whose year-round population is only about 11,000, it instantly qualified as one of the biggest events of the decade.

In the fall of 2017, Spacey became a central figure in the #MeToo era, along with Harvey Weinstein, and still faces multiple accusations of sexual misconduct in other cities. Actor Anthony Rapp has accused Spacey of assaulting him when Rapp was 14 years old.

On December 31, Barrett rejected a request from Spacey’s attorneys, who sought to excuse the actor from appearing in court. They said it would risk contaminating the jury pool and creating bias against Spacey. Prosecutors had opposed the motion, citing Massachusetts state rules of procedure for criminal cases.

Spacey, who was fired as star of Netflix’s House of Cards in November 2017, challenged the Nantucket allegations in a bizarre video that has garnered more than 9 million views on YouTube since it was posted on Christmas Eve. Titled “Let Me Be Frank,” it shows the actor in character as HoC‘s Frank Underwood, donning a holiday apron and delivering a monologue that alternately condemns the public for its “rush to judgment” and appeals for another chance.

Here is video of the full arraignment via Reuters:

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