NANTUCKET (REUTERS) - Former House of Cards star Kevin Spacey on Monday (Jan 7) pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man at a bar in Nantucket more than two years ago, while a judge ordered the man to preserve his mobile phone data from the time.
Dressed in a gray suit and tie, Spacey did not speak during a brief hearing Nantucket District Court to face one count of felony indecent assault and battery, though a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf by the court.
Spacey's lawyer Alan Jackson persuaded Judge Thomas Barrett to order Spacey's alleged victim to keep all data from his cell phone for six months following the July 7, 2016, incident. Jackson said the data was "likely exculpatory".
Jackson said in court papers that police reports showed the 18-year-old busboy exchanged numerous text messages and Snapchat videos with his then-girlfriend about his interactions with Spacey at the Club Car bar on the beach resort island off the coast of Massachusetts but never mentioned the alleged sexual assault.
Spacey could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
His appearance in a crowded courthouse surrounded by television trucks came at what is normally a quiet time of year on the island, a former whaling hub.
The 59-year-old actor is one of dozens of men in entertainment, business and politics who have been accused of sexual misconduct since accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017 sparked the #MeToo movement.
Spacey became embroiled in controversy in October 2017 when actor Anthony Rapp accused him of trying to seduce him in 1986 when Rapp was 14.
Spacey apologised for inappropriate conduct with Rapp.
The controversy led to Spacey, who won an Academy Award in 2000 for his role in American Beauty, being dropped from the Netflix television series House of Cards and erased from the film All the Money in the World.
The Nantucket allegations were first raised in November 2017 by former Boston television journalist Heather Unruh, who told reporters Spacey groped her teenage son on July 7, 2016, at the Club Car restaurant and bar, where he worked as a bus boy.
Unruh's son told police Spacey had bought him several rounds of beer and whiskey and said at one point, "Let's get drunk,"according to charging documents.
As they stood next to a piano, Spacey groped Unruh's son, the bus boy told investigators. The teen told police that he sent his girlfriend a video of the incident.
An attorney for the victim said he hoped to encourage other victims of sex assault to come forward.
"My client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted,"attorney Mitchell Garabedian said in an e-mail. "My client is leading by example."