Kevin Spacey was arraigned in a Nantucket courtroom on Monday morning on a charge of sexually assaulting a busboy in 2016.
The actor did not utter a word during the brief court hearing, which was packed with media and other onlookers. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Spacey made his way past a scrum of TV cameras on his way into and out of the small courthouse on the island 30 miles off the Massachusetts coast.
Spacey is accused of groping the 18-year-old man at the Club Car bar in July 2016. He faces a single charge of indecent assault and battery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
A new court date was set for March 4, at which Spacey will not have to appear. Judge Thomas Barrett granted a defense request that the accuser be required to preserve text messages from the six months following the alleged incident.
Spacey had asked the court to excuse him from appearing at Monday’s arraignment, saying his presence would “amplify negative publicity” around the case. That request was denied.
The accusation was first disclosed in November 2017, when Heather Unruh, a former Boston TV anchor, held a press conference to accuse Spacey of groping her son. Spacey is alleged to have provided her son with alcohol before sticking his hands down the young man’s pants and grabbing his genitals.
A Nantucket court clerk-magistrate heard testimony on the allegation on Dec. 20, and ruled there was enough evidence to file a felony charge. At the hearing, Spacey’s attorney, Alan Jackson, noted the lack of corroborating witnesses and that the young man was not interviewed by police until a year after the incident. Testimony also indicated that the young man was the first to approach Spacey and that he lied about his age, saying he was 23. Jackson also implied that the groping could have been consensual, noting that the young man reported that it last for three full minutes.
The accuser’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, issued a statement Monday saying his client hopes to serve as an example to other victims.
“By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted,” Garabedian said. “My client is leading by example.”