LONDON (AP) — One of Kevin Spacey‘s accusers described the Oscar-winning actor in a London court Monday as a “slippery, snaky” predator who good-looking young men were warned to avoid.
The man, who worked with Spacey when he came to the British capital’s Old Vic Theatre in the early 2000s, said the American actor offered to introduce him to Hollywood stars. But the man said the word around the playhouse was that he should be careful around Spacey.
“It was well known he was up to no good,” the man said in a video of his police interview played for jurors in Spacey’s sexual assault trial. “He was almost right from the get-go grooming me.”
The accuser, who cannot be identified under British law, is one of four men the former “House of Cards” star is accused of assaulting in the U.K.
He said Spacey made him uncomfortable querying him about his sexuality, then became “touchy-feely” and graduated to aggressive groping when they were alone together. He likened Spacey to the villain he played in the 1995 thriller “Se7en” about a serial killer motivated by the seven deadly sins.
“He’s a bit like that, a bit creepy,” the man said in his police interview last year.
Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges for events that date from 2001 to 2013. The charges include sexual assault, indecent assault and causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.
He could go to prison if convicted, though Spacey told a German magazine that he expects he’ll be offered work “the moment I am cleared of these charges.”
The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, continues Tuesday before a jury of nine men and five women in Southwark Crown Court.
Once one of the biggest actors of his generation, Spacey won an Academy Award for supporting actor in “The Usual Suspects” in 1995 and best actor Oscar for the 1999 movie “American Beauty.” He’s also won awards for the stage and small screen.
His career dried up when sexual misconduct allegations against him arose as the #MeToo movement exploded. He was written off the Netflix political thriller “House of Cards,” and cut from the completed film “All the Money in the World.”
The actor, who has homes in the U.S. and London, is free on bail. He served as artistic director at the Old Vic from 2003 until 2015.
The man who testified Monday said he reacted with horror when Spacey first made physical contact by rubbing his neck early in their work relationship in the early 2000s.
“The first time that he touched me was just a massive shock,” he said. “I just don’t like people’s hands on me.”
When he complained to a woman he worked for, she laughed it off and she said, “You can cope, you can handle it. We all know what he’s like,” he said.
The man said he decided he “didn’t want to upset the apple cart” and got on with his job.
But he said that as Spacey escalated to grabbing his crotch and taking his hand to rub the actor’s own privates over the pants, he began to dread when Spacey would return to London.
He described how Spacey would lean toward him while seated next to him and allow his hand to wander to his leg and then his inner thigh. At that moment in the testimony, Spacey was leaning on his right elbow in a similar manner as he listened from the courtroom dock.
On cross-examination, defense lawyer Patrick Gibbs suggested the man, who was disguised in court behind a curtain, was confused by the touching and even got a thrill from it.
“Nothing happened between us. He was assaulting me,” the man replied. “I was doing my job and he was the one touching me.”’
Gibbs confronted the man with a photo he posted on social media six years ago in which his arm appears to be around Spacey’s back.
“Did it make you feel sick to stand there side by side?” Gibbs asked.
The man said he used the image to promote his business.
“Anyone who does social media would have killed for a picture like that,” he said.
He said the final straw came on a day he was driving Spacey to a celebrity-studded summer gala in 2004 or 2005. The star violently gripped his crotch and he nearly ran off the road, the man testified.
“He grabbed me really hard, and it really hurt,” he said. “I pushed him against the door and said, ‘Don’t do that again or I will knock you out.’”
“That’s such a turn on to me,” he said Spacey replied. “You’re such a man.”
Gibbs, however, said that Spacey only attended that gala once — three or four years earlier than the witness claimed.
The defense lawyer also showed jurors a snapshot the man had sent Spacey of himself as thanks for supporting him on a charity hike in the Rocky Mountains of North America. The man also kept a warm letter Spacey wrote him after donating 5,000-pound ($6,350) for the trek.
Spacey told police when he was questioned that he considered the man a “clever” and “charming” friend and was baffled and deeply hurt by his allegations. He suggested the man reimagined their time together to produce false allegations because he was either too embarrassed to admit the truth or seeking financial gain.
On cross-examination, the man said he may have considered suing Spacey but that whatever financial award he might win in court “wouldn’t be enough.”
The man said he told a few people in his life about his experience with Spacey, fearing it could affect his career. He said he decided to come forward last year after Spacey was charged with assaulting the three other alleged victims in the case.
“That’s a big part of it,” the man said. “Strength in numbers, isn’t it?”
“Or is it that in 2022, you saw a bandwagon coming past, and you decided to hop on board?” Gibbs asked.
“That’s not true at all,” the man said.
He said he never overcame the shame he felt from his encounters with Spacey and cannot bring himself to watch the actor’s films or TV shows.
“I can’t stand watching the man. It makes me feel sick,” he said.