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Kevin Spacey found not guilty in sexual assault case in London | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

In civil and criminal cases, Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey has been portrayed as a sexual predator, and he became persona non grata in Hollywood. But after successfully fending off a lawsuit accusing him of molesting a teenage actor, he has been cleared by a criminal court in London of sexually assaulting four men.

A jury of nine men and three women deliberated for nearly one month before finding the actor not guilty Wednesday of nine charges, including several sexual assault charges and a charge of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent. The case was among several to arise against Spacey amid the #MeToo movement as the actor fell from grace and and went largely without work after 2017. He has since emerged unscathed, at least legally, in an era that has seen other high-profile figures in Hollywood imprisoned or found liable for millions.

In addition to the acquittal in London, Spacey has prevailed against a pair of would-be criminal cases in the U.S., as well as a $40-million lawsuit from fellow actor Anthony Rapp, who had accused Spacey of sexually abusing him when Rapp was a child in 1986. Spacey had said he intended to return to acting full-time if acquitted in London.

As the last not-guilty verdict was read in Southwark Crown Court, tears streamed down the face of the “American Beauty” actor, who turned 64 on Wednesday. While addressing the media outside the courtroom, Spacey said he was grateful for the jury and was “humbled by the outcome.”

During the trial, jurors heard testimony from Spacey’s accusers, who alleged he leveraged his celebrity against them to keep them silent. Prosecutors painted the actor as “a sexual bully.” Spacey, who testified in his own defense, and his attorneys worked to discredit the four men, calling three of them “liars.” Last week, they called on singer Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, to take the witness stand to poke holes in one of the men’s allegations.

The four men alleged they were assaulted in separate incidents between 2001 and 2013. Spacey lived in London from 2004 to 2015 while he was working as artistic director at the Old Vic theater.

His tenure at the helm of England’s theatrical treasure was celebrated at the time, as he boosted its profile internationally with productions such as a touring version of Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” starring Spacey, and other revivals. Two years after he stepped down as director, the men came forward in 2017, joining nearly a dozen others who have accused the actor of sexual misconduct.

One of the men accused Spacey of forcibly grabbing his crotch while he drove the actor to an event at John’s home. Two men claimed Spacey had groped them in separate incidents, one of them at a charity event; the man said the actor had grabbed at his crotch with such force that it felt “like a cobra” holding on to him. Another man accused Spacey of grabbing his genitals after the two met at a pub. One other man alleged that he went to Spacey’s home for mentorship and beer and stayed the night, only to wake up the next morning to find the actor performing oral sex on him.

Spacey dismissed one of the fondling accusations as “pure fantasy” and the incident involving a fourth accuser as “a clumsy pass.” He said his interactions with one of the accusers were consensual and “romantic.”

While prosecutors attempted to highlight Spacey’s celebrity and the imbalance of power that comes with such status, Spacey, from the witness stand, had jurors laughing and smiling at parts of his testimony, the Associated Press reported. Prosecutors occasionally had to rein him in when anecdotes strayed into irrelevance.

In a separate New York civil case in 2022, a jury decided that Spacey had not molested Rapp in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and both were relatively unknown stage actors. During the trial, Rapp recounted his allegations that Spacey forced himself on top of the then-teenager in Spacey’s bedroom. Rapp called the alleged incident “the most traumatic single event of my life.”

“I came forward because I knew I was not the only one who Kevin Spacey made inappropriate sexual advances to,” Rapp said, according to the Associated Press.

After Rapp came forward, Spacey lost various roles, including that of Frank Underwood on the Emmy-winning Netflix show “House of Cards.” His scenes in Ridley Scott’s 2017 drama “All the Money in the World” were cut, and he was replaced by Christopher Plummer. Studios and other actors refused to work with him.

Other accusers stepped forward in recent years, but the cases went nowhere. In 2019, criminal charges against Spacey in Massachusetts were dropped due to “the unavailability” of a young man who had accused the actor of groping him at a resort island bar in 2016.

That same year, prosecutors in Los Angeles County decided not to file charges against Spacey after a massage therapist who accused him of sexual assault had unexpectedly died. The masseur had claimed the actor forced him to touch his genitals during a treatment at Spacey’s Malibu home in October 2016.

Despite the victory in London and with no other legal cases pending against Spacey, it remains to be seen whether the actor, who won Oscars for his performances in “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects,” will stage a comeback.

Even as the legal cases played out in court, Spacey determined to keep working. He has spent his time away from Hollywood writing scripts for theater pieces and short films. Spacey acted in smaller onscreen titles, including three forthcoming independent films, one of them “Control.” He also appeared in the films “Billionaire Boys Club” (2018) and “The Man Who Drew God” (2022).

Spacey said he is aware that some creators “are very afraid” to collaborate with him, but that other artists may pave the way for a comeback. Leading up to the London trial, Spacey said he was confident he could return to the spotlight once he was exonerated and said he knows people “who are ready to hire me.”

“In 10 years, [the allegations] won’t mean anything,” he said. “My work will live longer than I will, and that’s what will be remembered.”

Times staff writers Christie D’Zurilla and Alexandra Del Rosario and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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