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Actor Kevin Spacey is acquitted in the U.K. on sexual assault charges

Actor Kevin Spacey walks outside Southwark Crown Court in London, Wednesday.
Alberto Pezzali
/
AP
Actor Kevin Spacey walks outside Southwark Crown Court in London, Wednesday.

Updated July 26, 2023 at 12:12 PM ET

LONDON — A jury in England acquitted actor Kevin Spacey Wednesday on sexual assault charges, after 12 hours of deliberations.

On hearing the verdict, the Hollywood actor — who turns 64 today — wiped away tears and mouthed the words "thank you" to the jury. He hugged his manager and legal team.

Spacey was acquitted of all nine charges against him, including seven counts of sexual assault, one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

The charges related to four men who accused Spacey of offenses dating back to the period between 2001 and 2013, during which time Spacey was artistic director of London's Old Vic theater.

The verdict came after almost four weeks of hearings. Spacey was present in court throughout the trial. He heard claims from the prosecution that he had "aggressively" grabbed three men by the crotch and performed a sex act on another man while he was "asleep or passed out" in his flat.

Prosecutors said the actor had left the complainants feeling "small, diminished and worthless."

The London trial came after a jury in New York last year found Spacey not guilty of molesting actor Anthony Rapp in 1986.

Spacey denied all charges, and described the allegations against him as a "stab in the back." His defense was that he was a "big flirt" who had consensual flings and made what in retrospect was a clumsy pass, he said, at someone whose interest he'd misread.

Spacey's defense lawyer argued that it was "not a crime to like sex, even if you're famous ... and it's not a crime to have casual sex."

Speaking outside the courtroom shortly after the verdict, Spacey said he was "humbled" by the outcome and thanked court staff.

The Oscar-winning actor and "House of Cards" star could have faced time in prison if convicted.

In an interview with Germany's Zeit Magazin last month, Spacey said he was determined to get his career back, saying people would be ready to hire him again as soon as he was cleared of the charges in London.

He told the magazine, "In 10 years, it won't mean anything. My work will live longer than I will and that's what will be remembered."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lauren Frayer
Lauren Frayer covers South Asia for NPR News. In 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.
Fatima Al-Kassab