May 22, 2024

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What to know about the UK sex crimes trial conducted by Kevin Spacey

What to know about the UK sex crimes trial conducted by Kevin Spacey

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey is due to go on trial in London on Wednesday, where he faces multiple allegations of sexual assault.

Since the emergence of the #MeToo movement six years ago, a number of high-profile people have been accused of misconduct, yet Mr Spacey’s case is one of the few to reach a British courtroom.

The 63-year-old actor has pleaded not guilty to all charges. This month, at Interview with Oil Magazinea German magazine, he said he expected to be found not guilty, after which he would resume acting.

The trial at Southwark Crown Court is scheduled to last four weeks. During that time, the courtroom will likely be filled with journalists and celebrity watchers following the case.

Here’s what you need to know.

Mr. Spacey is accused of sexually assaulting four men in England between 2001 and 2013. For most of that period, Mr. Spacey was the Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre, one of London’s most prestigious theaters.

Last June, the UK Crown Prosecution Service charged Mr Spacey with four counts of sexually assaulting three men, as well as other charges of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without their consent.

A few months later, in November, prosecutors cleared seven more charges against Mr. Spacey related to another complainant. It included three counts of sexual assault, three of indecent assault, and one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without their consent.

Both sets of charges will be considered in this month’s trial.

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Anna Bradshaw, a British criminal attorney, said in a phone interview that the case would look different from a US trial. In Britain, legal advocates called barristers discuss cases in court wearing the traditional dress of white wigs and black gowns.

Bradshaw added that the trial would not be televised because cameras are rarely allowed in British courts. (Alternatively, specialized artists paint the scenery.)

Ms Bradshaw said the complainants would not be publicly identified, adding that this rule was in place to protect the privacy of the accused and to encourage victims of sexual assault to report incidents to the police. They are likely to testify, Ms Bradshaw said, and be cross-examined “by video link, or, in court, perhaps from behind a screen or curtain”.

During the four-week trial, prosecutors will first present their case to the 12-person jury, and then Mr. Spacey’s team will make the defense.

A crime is punishable by life imprisonment. Others also come with possible prison sentences. Under British law, judges have some flexibility to change rulings.

Bradshaw added that if a guilty verdict is issued, the judge will usually hold a separate hearing to announce the verdict at a later date.

In two hearings over the past year, Mr. Spacey has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Last June, Patrick Gibbs, Mr. Spacey’s legal representative, told the courtroom that the actor was determined to prove his innocence.

In Britain, where it is a crime to publish information that may be biased to the jury, defendants like Mr Spacey face some restrictions in using the media to make their case before trial.

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To avoid breaking British law, Mr Spacey did not discuss the case in the Zeit Magazine article, other than to assert his innocence. But he said he knew of managers who wanted to work with him once the trial was over. He said, “I know there are people out there now who are willing to hire me the moment I’m cleared of these charges.”