Day 2 of the Kevin Spacey trial wrapped up yesterday afternoon, hot on the heels of a blistering takedown of Rapp’s team by defense lawyer Jennifer Keller during opening statements on Thursday.
As reported yesterday, Keller’s use of Rapp’s own recorded words during an earlier deposition seriously undermined the Star Trek actor’s credibility right from the start.
The opening act of Day 2 was Andrew Holtzman—the first witness to take the stand for the plaintiff’s side.
On the stand, Holtzman alleged that a man he believed to be Kevin Spacey accosted him in 1981. Holtzman, 27 at the time, was working at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival (Layfayette Street) as a New York public film coordinator. The defendant, Kevin Spacey —then 20—was working as a production assistant for the festival head, Papp.
Holtzman confirms under oath he has “no first-hand knowledge” of Rapp’s 1986 allegations
Holtzman claimed a young man wearing tight blue jeans and a noticeable erection, just wandered into his office one day as Holtzman was wrapping up a phone call.
Holtzman, who was between 120-130 pounds at the time, says the stranger “grabbed me by the crotch…for leverage,” put him on the desk, and rubbed his erection against him. “I felt his erection against my body.”
He said he began shouting at the silent groper, who “pulled away and looked angry,” grabbed his bag and left. Holtzman says he never saw the man again. He told no one about the alleged incidents, even though the festival head, Joesph Papp, could have “ended Spacey’s career.”
When asked how he knew it was Spacey, Holtzman said that he likely saw Spacey’s face on the program for the production of Henry IV (Part 1).
Spacey’s role as Messenger in the 1981 performance was minor, the last single character listed on the playlist. Variety reviewed the program Holtzman asserts he recognized Spacey from—but it didn’t contain any photos of Spacey.
Mr. Holtzman claimed he was unaware that defendant Spacey worked for the Festival then. I find this claim very interesting because Spacey’s role as a production assistant is so well-noted.
In addition to articles in publications such as Washington Post (linked above), Cigar Aficionado, and Playbill Magazine, Spacey has repeatedly spoken of his time there in various interviews. Spacey recalled how Papp, after seeing the up-and-coming actor in an off-broadway production, fired him as a way to kick him “out of the nest” and become what he was meant to be: an actor.
Holtzman: Anyone who has been in the closet is not healthy.Embed from Getty Images
Holtzman, who believes that “anyone who has been in the closet is not healthy,” said nothing to anyone about the bizarre event until after Anthony Rapp’s BuzzFeed interview was published in 2017—36 years later.
Holtzman testified he “didn’t tell anyone at the Public Theater” because he feared Spacey “might tell Mr. Papp [he’d] done something.” But after Anthony Rapp’s 2017 Buzzfeed interview, Holtzman says he “told it for the first time on Facebook” and got “58 responses, who did not know the story.”
Holtzman told a different version of his story to TheWrap as part of their report on 12 #MeToo accusers. In this version, the silent assaulter doesn’t grab him by the crotch, there is no lifting upon a desk, and there’s no grinding or screaming.
“I pushed him off, and I said, ‘This is my place of work, what are you doing?’”
In the same interview, Holtzman says, about Kevin Spacey, “He’s not well.” Adding, “anyone who has been in the closet is not healthy.
A curious number of those who have spoken out against Kevin Spacey have a history of publicly condemning those who choose to live life “in the closet.”
Holtzman had testified earlier that he kept a journal detailing the event. However, he failed to provide a copy of the alleged journals to the court.
While Holtzman confirms he has no direct knowledge of Rapp’s allegations, he does paint a haunting image of a Silent Groper prowling the halls of the NY Shakespeare Festival in search of gratification.
Unfortunately for the plaintiff, there is no evidence, nothing to connect this tale—that sounds like its ripped from the pages of Penthouse circa 1982—to the defendant.
Half a point awarded to the plaintiff.
I want to give more, but starting with a witness that offers no direct evidence to the lawsuit assertion, although dramatic, is a sideways step. It doesn’t add anything.
Rapp’s side followed up Holtzman’s testimony with Christopher Denny, Rapp’s longtime friend. Denny moved to NY in 1979 and met Rapp in the off-Broadway play Sophistry.
And folks, this just gets downright weird.
Sophistry, written by Jonathan Marc Sherman, was first performed in 1993 and starred Calista Flockhart, Ethan Hawke, and Anthony Rapp.
In Sophistry, Anthony Rapp once again plays a character caught up in a sexual assault situation.
Sophistry is set in a 1990 elite liberal arts college in New England. The college reals when a “beloved, eccentric professor is charged with sexually harassing a disturbed male student (played by Rapp).” Austin Pendelton played the professor.
“Philosophy professor Whitey McCoy (Pendelton) is accused of seducing a male student, Jack Kahn (Rapp). Both Whitey and Jack tell the story, each from their conflicting memories, leaving everybody in doubt as to what is true.”
Sound familiar, anyone?
Nonetheless, I have to give a point to Rapp’s side for—as promised by the plaintiff’s opening statements—providing a witness who testified that Rapp had told him the story of the alleged assault.
However, I’m also going to deduct half a point for a technical foul. Denny asserts he heard the story around 1993. But the plaintiff’s opening statements assured us we’d hear about how “Back in Illinois,” 14-year-old Rapp “tells a friend what Kevin Spacey did.”
1993 is much later than 1986. Unable to support the opening argument claim will cost Rapp’s side half a point.
Anthony Rapp takes the stand
After lunch on Day 2, it was Anthony Rapp’s turn to take the stand.
Early on, Rapp testified that he “wasn’t fully grown” at the time of the alleged assault, recalling by comparison that Spacey struck him “as being tall.”
Rapp asserts that he entered Spacey’s “somewhat” dimly lit apartment where he “didn’t see anyone that I recognized other than Kevin Spacey.” He explained that he “immediately” felt “awkward and shy” and decided to look out the window from the bedroom area of his host’s apartment on the Upper East Side.
Of the alleged assault, Rapp says he was “sitting on the edge of the bed…facing the window and the television, with my feet on the floor” when he noticed an “unsteady,” and “glassy-eyed” Spacey at the doorway to the bedroom.
Rapp alleges Spacey blocked Rapp’s exit and then picked him up “like a groom holds a bride over a threshold,” put Rapp on the bed and “put his full weight onto my chest.”
“He wasn’t fully parallel on me; it was a little bit of an angle. He was pressing his groin into my hip, the side of my hip.”
Rapp appears to be asserting, for the first time, under oath that Spacey was “pressing his groin” into his hip; something he has repeatedly—and specifically denied—under sworn testimony.Embed from Getty Images
He wraps up the allegation by saying he “managed to wriggle out” and went to the bathroom.
Rapp is also now newly asserting that Spacey blocked his exit when he asked the then 14-year-old, “Are you sure you want to leave?”
In previous versions of his allegation, Rapp asserted that he came out of the bathroom, and:
“I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to go home now.’ He followed me to the front door of the apartment, and as I opened the door to leave, he was leaning on the front door[frame]. And he was like, ‘Are you sure you wanna go?’ I said, ‘Yes, good night,’ and then I did leave.”Anthony Rapp, BuzzFeed Interview with Adam B. Vary
When questioned as to why he didn’t tell his mother about the alleged assault or report it to the authorities, Rapp said it was “complicated.”
Rapp asserts that he had not yet come out as gay to his mother and didn’t want to discuss “any kind of sex” with his mother..
And if you’ve been following the case, as I have, that will feel eerily familiar. Rapp said in the Buzzfeed interview that he didn’t tell his mother because he didn’t want to talk about his sexuality—that he wasn’t ready to do that.
It’s worth pointing out that Rapp did, in fact, have a major conversation with his mother about his homosexual relationship with an adult neighbor that very year. In Without You, Rapp’s mother pleaded, “But you’re only fourteen.” Rapp shouts at his mother in response. “I knew what I was ‘doing,’ Mom. I wanted to do it. It was my choice. He didn’t ‘make’ me do anything.”
Okay, let’s see if I’m getting his narrative correct.
Rapp says he avoided talking about the alleged incident because it would have forced him to address his sexuality before he was prepared to do so. Additionally, he said he was afraid that discussing the situation could result in his losing future opportunities.
That sounds disturbingly familiar.
He’s describing the precise situation he created for Kevin Spacey when he made his unsubstantiated allegations to his reporter friend of twenty years, Adam B. Vary.
Rapp essentially had a choice to discuss his sexuality and chose not to do so at that time. This is the exact choice he did not afford Kevin Spacey when he made public allegations of sexual assault.
Why was Kevin Spacey in the closet?
The choice of if/ when to “come out” is a deeply personal and often multi-layered decision. Evidence has long since shown that “forced outing” of someone, i.e., making someone announce and publically deal with their sexuality before they’re ready to do so, can have “deadly” consequences.
Outing is dangerous, and it’s a violation of an individual’s rights. The Constitution of the United States protects a person’s sexual orientation from forced disclosure [Sterling v. Borough of Minersville].
But, when it comes to outing celebrities, I guess the laws don’t apply if it will get readers. And while an investigation into all sexual assault allegations must be carried out, they shouldn’t be done via a listicle writer for BuzzFeed.
Mr. Rapp had a choice of how he would make his allegations.
He could have addressed his very serious assertions as a mature adult, gone to the authorities, or reached out directly to Spacey through a lawyer or mediator.Embed from Getty Images
He could have done it many ways, but he didn’t. Instead, he chose to blindside a closeted gay man with an outing, child-molestation allegation that, five years later, no one has been able to corroborate—not even the “other attendees” at the “party.”
Mr. Spacey is expected to take the stand next week. Cross-examination of Rapp will take place on Tuesday (Monday, Columbus Day, is a court holiday).
Day two goes to the plaintiff, Anthony Rapp
After the final tabulation, I’ll give Friday’s win to the Anthony Rapp’s team.
With limited opportunity to act, the defense could do little beyond listen to the plaintiff’s side present their case. And in any lawsuit, that’s how it should start. But when the plaintiff rests their argument, it’s time for the defense to come out with guns blazing.
And judging from the defense’s legal team so far, I’m guessing each of those banker’s boxes they rolled into the courthouse is packed to the brim with legal hand grenades.