Kevin Spacey: House of Cards star on trial for sex abuse after Anthony Rapp allegations - begins in New York

Lawyers argue what happened at a 30 year old party in the first day of the Kevin Spacey trial in Manhattan.

Kevin Spacey, the actor known for his work on the West End stage and the silver screen, has appeared in a Manhattan federal court to stand trial against fellow actor Anthony Rapp.

The first day of the trial, where Anthony Rapp has made claims of sexual misconduct against the Oscar winner, has already become a terse affair with lawyers for both actors arguing their client’s accounts of what happened 30 years ago.

Anthony Rapp, known for his broadway roles in Rent and in films such as Dazed and Confused, is suing Spacey for $40m USD (around £36m) in damages for an incident involving himself and Spacey while Rapp was 14 years old.

What happened on the first day of the Kevin Spacey trial?

Actor Kevin Spacey arrives to attend a civil trial hearing on sexual abuse charges brought against him by Anthony Rapp in Manhattan federal court in New York

In the first day of the trial, lawyers for Spacey and Rapp looked to poke holes into both actor’s recollections of a function 30 years ago they both attended.

Rapp alleges that Spacey, then 26, drunkenly lifted Rapp onto a bed and climbed on top of him at a party at Spacey’s New York apartment in 1986.

At the time, Rapp was a 14-year-old actor just starting his own Broadway career while Spacey had already established his name on stage.

Rapp managed to "wriggle out" and left, but not without Spacey following him to the front door and asking, "Are you sure you want to go?" Peter Saghir, Rapp’s lawyer, told jurors in Manhattan federal court.

"Kevin Spacey is a fantastic actor, no doubt about that," Saghir said. "Every time Anthony hears that, hears Kevin Spacey’s name, he’s back in that apartment in 1986."

Jennifer Keller, representing Spacey in the Manhattan federal court case,  accused Rapp of fabricating the story because he was “jealous his own acting career was not as successful as Spacey’s.”

She said his description of the alleged encounter resembled a scene in the play Rapp was acting in at the time.

"He’s been telling this story for attention, for sympathy, and to raise his own profile," Keller said. "He never became the international star that Kevin Spacey is... he has been simmering and simmering with resentment all along."

How long will the Kevin Spacey trial last?

The court case between Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp is expected to last two weeks at the Manhattan federal court; much shorter than the planned London court case which is expected to last almost six weeks.

Why is Kevin Spacey on trial in Manhattan?

Actor Anthony Rapp arrives to the US District Courthouse

Anthony Rapp filed a lawsuit against Kevin Spacey in November 2020 alleging battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress while he was starting his career in Broadway.

Rapp alleges that he attended a party with Spacey, 26 at the time, where Spacey made advances towards the actor while knowing how old he was at the time.

Rapp described his encounter with Spacey in an interview with BuzzFeed in late 2017 at the height of #MeToo.

The allegations, alongside those made in the UK, led to a loss of job roles for Kevin Spacey, a two time Academy Award winner known for his roles in American Beauty and The Usual Suspects.

His Netflix series, House of Cards, was pulled from the streaming platform and he was digitally replaced by Christopher Plummer in the 2017 film All The Money In The World mere weeks before its release.