Kevin Spacey, accused of sexual abuse, appears in British court

LONDON — Kevin Spacey, the Oscar and Tony Award-winning actor, appeared in a London court on Thursday charged with sexual assault.

Nearly five years after charges began to surface against him, Mr Spacey, 62, is facing four charges of assault in Britain, as well as one of inciting a person to engage in invasive sexual activity without their consent.

When he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in a blue suit, he was sitting alone in a side room, occasionally smiling at the reporters present, but barely speaking.

He confirmed his name and address in London (he acts as Kevin Spacey Fowler) and was told the charges he is facing. It was the first, mainly procedural phase in what will most likely be a lengthy criminal procedure.

The case will be referred to a Crown Court, which deals with more serious cases, where Mr Spacey will appear for the first time next month. An actual trial is unlikely to take place for some time due to a serious backlog in the UK legal system.

The facts of which Mr. Spacey is accused, involving three men, of allegedly taking place between March 2005 and April 2013 – a time when Mr. Spacey was the Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theater in London.

Patrick Gibbs, the legal representative of Mr. Spacey, told the court that Mr. Spacey denied all charges and was determined to prove his innocence.

Natalie Dawson, the prosecutor, asked the court to prevent Mr Spacey from leaving Britain, saying there were “substantial reasons” he might not return to face trial. Mr Gibbs denied this, saying that Mr Spacey had voluntarily traveled to Britain for the hearing and would do so for future court hearings.

mr. Spacey also had to travel to attend auditions, while his life was largely based in the United States, said Mr. Gibbs. That included “his 9-year-old dog,” Mr Gibbs added.

Tan Ikram, the judge presiding over the hearing, granted unconditional bail, saying he was “unconvinced” that there was a real risk that Mr Spacey would not attend future court hearings.

Since the #MeToo movement gained widespread popularity in 2017, Mr. Spacey, who won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty,” one of the most famous celebrities accused of sexual assault.

But his performance in London, along with the court hearings of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, is one of the few cases to go to court. After a little over an hour in the courtroom, Mr. Spacey in a Mercedes without talking to journalists.

Celebrity spotters are often seen outside high-profile lawsuits, hoping to catch a glimpse of troubled stars, but on Thursday, the scrum of onlookers appeared to be entirely journalists and photographers.

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