For years, Andy Holtzman had been sharing only with close friends his "strange" story about a scary encounter, when Kevin Spacey groped him in the summer of 1981. For years he thought he was the only one with such a story. Not anymore.
"I had no idea I was far from alone," Holtzman told USA TODAY. "It's a good feeling and a bad feeling at the same time. It felt better for me (to finally talk about it), and not so good for so many others who had the same or similar experiences."
On Friday, Holtzman became the 15th man to accuse Spacey of sexually assaulting him, in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY after he posted his story on his private Facebook page.
His story is similar in key ways to alleged encounters described by other accusers, but Holtzman's accusation is the earliest so far.
It was July in New York and Holtzman was just 27, in his first major job out of college at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater, where he was running the fledgling film program. He was in his office one day, phone in hand, when Spacey walked in and sat down at an empty desk.
Holtzman knew who he was. Then 22, Spacey was an up-and-coming actor, playing a minor role in Henry IV Part 1, according to records.
"Within minutes, wordlessly, he was up and all over me," Holtzman says. "The aggression was certainly more than a grope. When I was finally able to push him off and scream (at him), he theatrically stepped back, incredibly angry, grabbed his coat and bag, stormed out and slammed the door."
Holtzman says he was shocked, then freaked out. Would Spacey get him fired? He kept fretting: What did I do, what signal did I send? And, "what the hell just happened to me?"
"It's never happened before or since, where somebody physically forces himself on you in a wordless way. In my office, with a phone in my hand, during the day! It was so out of place, so sudden. It was the wordlessness of it — he never spoke to me throughout, not one word. I was saying things, he was saying nothing."
(USA TODAY confirmed Holtzman was working at the festival’s theater that summer, along with Spacey, via public records, biographies, news reports and other publications from that time.)
Holtzman said he was more stunned by the encounter than traumatized. He was young, he was gay, he was comfortable with his sexuality, but he wasn't interested in Spacey, then in the closet. He couldn't fathom why Spacey would do such a thing to him and then react the way he did when he was rebuffed.
"It was the look on his face that was really shocking and then scary," Holtzman says. "The anger was undeserved. If you ask for something and get a no, then I can understand the anger, but you ask for nothing and then try to take everything? Where is that anger coming from?"
As it happened, Spacey never retaliated against Holtzman, he says, and he avoided Spacey from then on, which was easy to do in the sprawling Public Theater complex. Holtzman, now 64, went on to a flourishing career in marketing, and is now a freelance marketing consultant.
But the memory of the encounter lingered; every time Spacey advanced in his career, such as winning two Oscars, Holtzman was reminded of it and would discuss it with his friends.
Then the memories flooded back in a rush after actor Anthony Rapp spoke out on Oct. 29 about Spacey, accusing him of making sexual advances on him in 1986 when he was just 14.
Since then more than a dozen other accusers, including at least five who were teens at the time, have come forward in Baltimore, New York and London to accuse Spacey of sexually harassing, groping or attempting to rape them in episodes dating back decades and as recent as last summer.
The consequences for Spacey have been catastrophic, including: He was fired from House of Cards, he's been dumped from his next movie, All the Money in the World, and his part is being reshot with another actor, and his biopic project about Gore Vidal has been shelved as long as he's connected to it. His career is in free-fall and he's gone to ground, issuing only one recent statement through a rep about seeking "treatment" for an unspecified malady.
USA TODAY reached out to Spacey's current representatives, lawyers Todd Rubenstein and Bryan Freedman, for a comment on Holtzman's accusation but did not receive an immediate response.
Rapp's j'accuse was the "tipping point," Holtzman says, spurring him to write his Facebook post to share his story with a wider circle of friends and family.
"People ask (critically), why so many decades later are people coming forward — even I asked that," Holtzman says. "I understand it so much clearer now. If it happens to you, it really changes the perspective. I feel a lot better now. I felt so alone at the time. Part of me feels vindicated now, to know there are a lot of us."
As for Spacey, Holtzman thinks his previously brilliant career is over. But he doesn't want to "gang up" on him.
"I don't wish him ill, I want him to get well, he needs help," Holtzman says. "He's a talented guy but I can’t see how people can go and watch him (on screen) without seeing Kevin Spacey 'the sexual-abuse guy.' I don't know how anyone gets over that."
Contributing: John Kelly
Kevin Spacey's Hollywood career