September 25, 2023

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London jury seated in Kevin Spacey sex assault trial on allegations over a decade old

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LONDON (AP) — Jurors who will decide the fate of actor Kevin Spacey were sworn in Wednesday in a London court as the Oscar winner faces charges of sexually assaulting four men as long as two decades ago.

The outcome of the trial could send Spacey to prison or revive his career.

The two-time Academy Award winner was dressed in a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and pink tie as he strode confidently into court and was called by his full name. He was asked if he was Kevin Spacey Fowler.

“I am,” he said as he stood behind a window in the dock.

Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges including sexual assault, indecent assault and causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

“I am sure the defendant will be gratified to know that many of you will know his name or have seen his films,” Justice Mark Wall said as Spacey nodded and smiled at the potential jurors lined up between the dock and two dozen journalists taking notes.

The first 14 jurors, including two alternates, called by name were seated without objection from the prosecution or defense. The remaining 13 were excused.

The jurors were clad in a mix of business and casual attire. Two women wore dresses and two men had suits and ties. One man wore a black denim jacket and a bearded man had a weathered Superman T-shirt stretched across his midsection.

Spacey stood with his hands clasped behind his back as the nine men and five women were sworn in as jurors to hear evidence in the case expected to last four weeks in Southwark Crown Court.

Opening statements are scheduled for Friday.

Spacey, who is free on bail and has homes in London and the U.S., arrived at court by taxi with his manager, Evan Lowenstein, about two hours before the trial was due to start. He smiled and waved as he passed photographers and video journalists.

Spacey has said an acquittal in the case could jump-start a career that has largely been on ice since sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against the star who won his first Academy Award for supporting actor in “The Usual Suspects” in 1995.

“There are people right now who are ready to hire me the moment I am cleared of these charges in London,” Spacey said in a rare interview published this month in Germany’s Zeit magazine. He said the media had turned him into a “monster.”

The charges involving men now in their 30s or 40s date from 2001 to 2013 — covering most of the decade when he lived in Britain and served as artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre until 2015.

Spacey’s downfall came amid the #MeToo movement in the United States when allegations led to him being written off the Netflix political thriller “House of Cards,” where he played the lead character Frank Underwood, a ruthless and corrupt congressman who becomes president. He was cut from the completed film “All the Money in the World,” and the scenes reshot with Christopher Plummer.

Spacey became one of the most celebrated actors of his generation in the 1990s, starring in films including “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “LA Confidential.” He won his second Oscar, for best actor, in the 1999 movie “American Beauty.”

Spacey recently had his first film role in several years, appearing in 2022 in Italian director Franco Nero’s “The Man Who Drew God,” and playing the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in the biopic “Once Upon a Time in Croatia.” He also stars in the unreleased U.S. film “Peter Five Eight.”

Italy’s National Cinema Museum in Turin gave him its lifetime achievement award in January. He also taught a masterclass and introduced a sold-out screening of “American Beauty” which was billed as Spacey’s first speaking engagement in five years.

Spacey saluted organizers for “making a strong defense of artistic achievement” and for having “le palle” — the Italian word for male body parts synonymous with courage — to invite him.

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