BOSTON – Massachusetts prosecutors on Wednesday dropped a criminal case accusing former “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket bar in 2016 after the alleged victim refused to testify.
Prosecutors said they made the decision to drop the felony indecent assault and battery charge against the Oscar winner after the alleged victim invoked his right under the U.S. Constitution against giving self-incriminating testimony.
Spacey’s lawyers had previously accused the man of deleting text messages that would support the actor’s defense. The man invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during a hearing earlier this month concerning the whereabouts of his cellphone, which was missing.
Spacey, who won an Academy Award in 2000 for his role in “American Beauty,” had pleaded not guilty to the charge. His lawyers had called the allegations against him “patently false.”
Lawyers for Spacey, 59, and the accuser did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The filing of charges last year marked one of the relatively rare criminal prosecutions of the #MeToo era, which has seen mostly women reveal wide-spread patterns of sexual harassment and abuse in entertainment, business and politics.
The allegations emerged after another actor accused Spacey of trying to seduce him three decades ago when he was 14, leading Netflix to drop Spacey from “House of Cards” and to his being erased from the film “All the Money in the World.”
Spacey first became embroiled in controversy in October 2017 when actor Anthony Rapp accused him of trying to seduce him in 1986, when Rapp was 14. Spacey apologized for inappropriate conduct with Rapp.
The Nantucket accuser told police that Spacey had bought him several rounds of beer and whiskey at the Club Car Restaurant on the island in July 2016 when he was 18 and said at one point, “Let’s get drunk,” according to charging documents.
As they stood next to a piano, Spacey groped the man, who was working as a bus boy at the restaurant, he told investigators.
Spacey’s accuser sued in June, but dropped the lawsuit a week later ahead of the July 8 hearing regarding his phone, which his lawyer said he could not find after being ordered to turn it over to Spacey’s attorneys.
He invoked his Fifth Amendment rights after an attorney for Spacey questioned him in Nantucket District Court about whether text messages had been deleted from his phone before it was given to investigators.