Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey was on Thursday due to appear at a London court, charged with four counts of sexual assault. The 62-year-old star was expected at Westminster Magistrates' Court from 0900 GMT to face the charges, which he has vowed to fight. Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner for "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty", was formally charged by police in the British capital on Monday. Reporting restrictions in place prevent the media going into detail about the charges to avoid prejudicing a jury at any trial.
First appearances at magistrates' court are largely procedural, with prosecutors sketching out the charges and the judge setting bail. Defendants are typically not obliged to enter a formal plea at this stage. Police and prosecutors have said the first two charges of sexual assault date from March 2005 in London and concern the same man, who is now in his 40s. The third is alleged to have happened in London in August 2008 against a man who is now in his 30s.
Spacey has also been charged "with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent" against the same man. The fourth sexual assault charge is alleged to have occurred in Gloucestershire, western England, in April 2013 against a third man, who is now in his 30s.
None of the alleged victims can be identified under English law. Spacey was artistic director of The Old Vic theatre in London between 2004 and 2015. Allegations against him emerged in the wake of the #MeToo movement that saw numerous claims of sexual assault and harassment in the movie industry.
That prompted an investigation by London's Metropolitan Police and a review by The Old Vic of his time in charge. Claims against Spacey in 2017 led to the end of his involvement in the filming of the final season of the political drama "House of Cards". He was also dropped from a Gore Vidal biopic on Netflix and as the industrialist John Paul Getty in "All the Money in the World". After prosecutors announced they had authorized charges last month, Spacey said he was "disappointed" with the decision. But he said in a statement: "I will voluntarily appear in the UK as soon as can be arranged and defend myself against these charges, which I am confident will prove my innocence."- AFP