In a Massachusetts court on Monday, embattled actor Kevin Spacey pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery charges stemming from an alleged July 2016 incident involving an 18-year-old man.
Defense attorneys made the not guilty plea on Spacey’s behalf as he was silent during his initial appearance inside Nantucket District Court. Judge Thomas Barrett scheduled the next court date for March 4 and granted Spacey’s request to not appear as long as he’s available over the phone, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
During the 10-minute hearing, Barrett barred Spacey, 59, from contacting the alleged victim or his family. NBC News reported that Barrett also ordered the preservation of the victim’s cell phone data for the six months following the July 2016 incident.
“This is data that we believe is, not only potentially exculpatory, but likely exculpatory for Mr. Spacey,” defense lawyer Alan Jackson said in court, according to NBC. “I simply don’t want to see any of that data deleted, destroyed—even inadvertently.”
The criminal accusations came to light in November 2017, when former WCVB news anchor Heather Unruh claimed Spacey plied her 18-year-old son with alcohol and grabbed his genitals at a Nantucket restaurant. According to BuzzFeed, Unruh said her son froze as Spacey made conversation and invited him to drinks at another location. Spacey left for the bathroom when a female patron asked if the teen was alright and instructed him to run away, according to Unruh.
Unruh spoke out against Spacey, who at the time was accused of sexual misconduct by at least 15 men. The mounting allegations ultimately led to Spacey’s ousting from Netflix’s hit series “House of Cards.”
Spacey faces five years in prison if found guilty of the felony charges. His accuser reportedly wasn’t in court on Monday.
“By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted,” the accuser’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said in a statement issued to NBC News on Monday. “My client is leading by example.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 7, 2019
[Featured Image: Kevin Spacey/NBC News/Youtube video screengrab]