LONDON (Reuters) – Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey appeared in a London court on Wednesday at the start of his four-week trial on a dozen sex offence charges.
Spacey, 63, denies allegations of historic offences committed against four men which are said to have taken place between 2001 and 2013.
The charges against Spacey include repeated incidents of indecent and sexual assaults, and a more serious offence of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Wearing a navy suit with a pink tie, Spacey watched intently from the spacious dock of Court 1 of London’s Southwark Crown Court as the jury were sworn in.
“The defendant will be gratified that many of you know his name or have seen his films,” judge Mark Wall said as he cautioned the jurors to try the case on its evidence and not be swayed by any outside influences.
“This is a case which has attracted … and will continue to attract a lot of media coverage,” Wall said. “You must try to avoid such coverage where you can.”
The trial was adjourned until Friday morning when the prosecution will formally open its case against him.
Spacey, who won Oscars for best actor in “American Beauty” (1999) and best supporting actor in “The Usual Suspects” (1995), spent over a decade working in London as artistic director for the British capital’s Old Vic theatre from 2004 to 2015.
British prosecutors first revealed he faced charges in May 2022, saying he was accused of five assaults between March 2005 and April 2013 – four in London and one in Gloucestershire in the west of England. They involved one man who is now in his 40s and two men now in their 30s.
Last November the Crown Prosecution Service authorised a further seven charges involving sex assaults on one man between 2001 and 2004.
Spacey, once one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, has largely disappeared from public view since being accused of sexual misconduct six years ago.
In the United States last October, Spacey defeated a sexual abuse case brought against him in a civil court after jurors in Manhattan found his accuser did not prove his claim that the actor made an unwanted sexual advance on him when he was 14.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Mark Heinrich, Christina Fincher, William Maclean)