Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at district court on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Nantucket, Mass., to be arraigned on a charge of indecent assault and battery. The Oscar-winning actor is accused of groping the teenage son of a former Boston TV anchor

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Spacey lawyers enter not guilty plea, ordered to stay away from accuser

January 07, 2019 - 12:00 pm
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NANTUCKET, Mass. (1010 WINS/AP) — Kevin Spacey arrived at a courthouse on a resort island Monday to answer accusations that he groped a young man in a bar there in 2016.

The two-time Oscar winner's attorneys entered a not guilty plea on his behalf in Nantucket District Court to felony indecent assault and battery. His next court date will be March 4, but a judge agreed that he would not have to appear as long as he was available by phone if needed. Spacey was also ordered to stay away from his accuser.

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The hearing came more than a year after a former Boston TV anchor accused the former "House of Cards" star of sexually assaulting her son, then 18, in the crowded bar at the Club Car, where the teen worked as a busboy.

Spacey's lawyer, Alan Jackson, has sought to poke holes in the case, noting that the teenager didn't immediately report the allegations. If convicted, Spacey faces as many as five years in prison.

The civil attorney for the accuser said in a statement ahead of the hearing that his client is "leading by example."

"By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted," said lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of clergy sexual abuse victims.

Garabedian is not a part of the criminal case against Spacey.

Media trucks lined the street before dawn, and locals on the island, which teems with tourists in the summer but quiets down in the winter, drove by slowly to take photos of reporters standing in line in the cold.

When the doors opened, more than two dozen journalists packed the courtroom hours before Spacey was scheduled to appear in late morning.

It's the first criminal case brought against Spacey, 59, since other allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him in 2017.

A judge denied Spacey's bid to avoid appearing in person Monday. Spacey had argued his presence would "amplify the negative publicity already generated" by the case.

Television anchor Heather Unruh told reporters in November 2017 that Spacey got her son drunk and then grabbed his genitals during the incident. She said her son fled the restaurant when Spacey went to the bathroom.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people alleging sexual assault.

After the charge was announced last month, Spacey released a video in the voice of Frank Underwood, his character on Netflix's "House of Cards," in which he said, "I'm certainly not going to pay the price for the thing I didn't do." It was unclear whether he was referring to the charge.

Spacey has also faced other allegations.

His first accuser, actor Anthony Rapp, said Spacey climbed on top of him on a bed when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26. Spacey said he did not remember such an encounter but apologized if the allegations were true.