Kevin Spacey pleaded not guilty Monday to groping an 18-year-old busboy in 2016 in the first criminal case brought against the disgraced actor following a string of sexual misconduct allegations that crippled his career.
Spacey’s court appearance came more than a year after former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh accused the former “House of Cards” star of sexually assaulting her son in a bar on the Massachusetts resort island of Nantucket.
Nantucket District Court Judge Thomas Barrett ordered Spacey to stay away from his accuser and the man’s family. Spacey will not have to appear at his next hearing on March 4, but he must be available by phone, Barrett said.
The judge also ordered Spacey’s accuser and the man’s then-girlfriend to preserve text messages and other data on their cellphones from the day of the alleged assault and six months after. Spacey’s attorney Alan Jackson told the judge they believe the cellphones contain information that is “likely exculpatory” for Spacey.
The actor and his lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse amid a crush of reporters. Spacey, wearing a gray suit, navy vest and polka dot tie, didn’t speak during the hearing and his lawyers entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf.
In court documents, Spacey’s lawyers called the accusations “patently false” and noted that prosecutors have no witnesses to the alleged groping. Spacey’s lawyers wrote that the teen lied about his age, “welcomed” drinks bought by Spacey, left the bar with him to smoke a cigarette and gave Spacey his phone number.
“At best, this describes two people engaged in mutual and consensual flirtation, nothing more,” his attorneys wrote.
If convicted of felony indecent assault and battery, the 59-year-old two-time Oscar winner could face as many as five years in prison.