Kevin Spacey, Accused of Sexual Assault, Appears in British Court

The proceedings are a rare example of a celebrity #MeToo case leading to criminal charges.

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

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

Appearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court wearing a blue suit, Mr. Spacey sat alone in a side room, occasionally smiling at the journalists present, but he barely spoke.

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

The case will be sent to a crown court, which deals with more serious cases, where Mr. Spacey will make his first appearance next month. An actual trial will probably not occur for some time because of a severe backlog in Britain’s judicial system.

The offenses with which Mr. Spacey is charged, which involve three men, are said to have occurred between March 2005 and April 2013 — a time when Mr. Spacey was the artistic director of the Old Vic theater in London.

Patrick Gibbs, Mr. Spacey’s legal representative, told the court that Mr. Spacey denied all of the 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 grounds” he may not return to face trial. Denying this, Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Spacey had voluntarily traveled to Britain for the hearing and would do so for future court dates.

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

Awarding unconditional bail, Tan Ikram, the judge presiding over the hearing, said he “had not been persuaded” there was any real risk of Mr. Spacey failing to attend future court dates.

Since the #MeToo movement gained widespread traction in 2017, Mr. Spacey, who won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty,” has been one of the highest-profile celebrities accused of sexual assault.

But his appearance in London is, along with the court appearances of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, one of the few cases to reach a court. After a little over an hour in court, Mr. Spacey left in a Mercedes without speaking to journalists.

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

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