Kevin Spacey groping accuser pleads the Fifth about missing cellphone
The judge acknowledged prosecutors would have a tough time bringing the case to trial if the man won't testify. "Once exercised, it may be pretty hard to get around this privilege at trial. The matter may well be dismissed for the reasons indicated. It's not going to happen today," the judge said.
NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — The man who accused Kevin Spacey of groping him at a Massachusetts resort island bar in 2016 asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify after being questioned by the actor's lawyer about text messages the defense claims were deleted.
The man's refusal to testify caused the judge to question the viability of the case against the two-time Oscar winner.
The man was ordered to testify after he failed to turn over the phone he used that night to the defense and then said it was lost. Spacey's lawyers say the man deleted messages from his phone that would support Spacey's claims of innocence and then provided investigators with manipulated screenshots of conversations from that night.
The accuser, speaking publicly for the first time, said he gave police what he had "available" to him "at the time" and did not manipulate any of the messages. "I have no knowledge of any deletions of messages on my phone," the man said. The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they identify themselves publicly.
After being pressed by Spacey's lawyer about whether he knew that altering evidence used in a prosecution is a crime, the man invoked his right against self-incrimination, and the judge said his testimony Monday would be stricken from the record. Spacey's lawyer urged the judge to dismiss the case, calling it "completely compromised."
The judge acknowledged that prosecutors would have a tough time bringing the case to trial if the man won't testify. "Once exercised, it may be pretty hard to get around this privilege at trial. The matter may well be dismissed for the reasons indicated. It's not going to happen today," Judge Thomas Barrett said.
The man's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said they cannot find the phone, but were able to retrieve a copy of its contents that had been backed up to a computer. An officer said he recalls giving the phone back to the man's father, but neither the accuser nor his parents remember that, Garabedian said. Spacey's lawyer said a backup copy of the phone is not enough.
"None of that answers the central question, which is: Where is the actual phone? That's what we want. That's what we're entitled to, and we still don't have it," Jackson said.
Spacey was not required to attend Monday's hearing, and he did not appear.
The accuser's testimony comes days after the man voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit that he had filed against the actor about a week earlier.
Garabedian said Monday that the man dropped the civil case because he's on an "emotional rollercoaster" and wants to focus on the criminal matter. "He only wanted one roller coaster ride at a time. The criminal case is enough," Garabedian said.
Spacey, who has denied the groping the teen, pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in January. His lawyers have accused the man of lying in the hopes of winning money in a civil case against Spacey.
The man told police he went over to talk to Spacey after his shift ended at Nantucket's Club Car bar because he wanted to get a picture with the actor. He said Spacey bought him several drinks and tried to persuade him to come home with him before unzipping the man's pants and groping him for about three minutes.
The accuser told police he tried to move Spacey's hands, but the groping continued, and he didn't know what to do because he didn't want to get in trouble for drinking because he was underage. The man said he fled when Spacey went to the bathroom.