Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey faced the harshest criticisms of his career Monday after fellow actor Anthony Rapp accused him of sexually harassing him when he was 14.
Rapp, 46, a Broadway veteran now seen in Star Trek: Discovery, told BuzzFeed that the House of Cards star, then 26, pushed him down on a bed during a party in 1986 and climbed on top of him. Rapp says he left before the encounter went any further.
In a statement published Sunday on Twitter, Spacey, 58, wrote, “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.
Spacey added, “As those closest to me know, in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.”
Earlier Monday, Netflix confirmed the streaming service won’t renew House of Cards — in which Spacey plays the calculating president of the U.S. — past the upcoming Season 6.
Netflix spokeswoman Karen Barragan told USA TODAY the decision to cancel the series was made “months ago” and was unrelated to the allegations. But the streaming service issued a joint statement with producing partner Media Rights Capital saying they are “deeply troubled” by the report.
“In response to last night’s revelations, executives from both of our companies arrived in Baltimore this afternoon to meet with our cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported,” the statement read. “As previously scheduled, Kevin Spacey is not working on set at this time.”
Later Monday, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said Monday that "in light of recent events" it would no longer honor Spacey with the 2017 Emmy Founders Award.
The Academy had planned to present Spacey with the award, which was given to Shonda Rhimes last year, in November at the International Emmys ceremony in New York City.
Many in the entertainment and LGBTQ communities were outraged that Spacey combined his coming-out and mea culpa statements, saying it furthered the conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia.
Comedian Wanda Sykes, who is a lesbian, chastised Spacey, writing, “You do not get to ‘choose’ to hide under the rainbow!”
Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, who came out as gay in 2011, called Spacey’s statement a “calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempted to molest (a LGBTQ youth).”
Fordham University law professor James Cohen says Spacey probably intended this acknowledgment as a “distraction” from the underlying accusation.
Though the 31-year-old incident may affect Spacey’s reputation, the passage of so much time protects him from criminal prosecution or a civil suit under New York state law. And there’s no doubt from his careful remarks Sunday night that Spacey knew that, Cohen says, calling his tweet an “extremely well-crafted and well-lawyered statement.”
Although there is no statute of limitation in New York on the actual rape of an adult or child, that is not the case for attempted statutory rape, Cohen notes. Under the law, Rapp would have had to press criminal charges or file a lawsuit within five years of reaching the age of majority, 18.
“If the accuser is below majority, the statute would extend until he reached majority, and as long as it’s a one-off (encounter) and not part of a course of sexual misconduct against a child, it would be five years after that,” Cohen says.
Kevin Spacey allegations: Zachary Quinto, 'House of Cards' creator, Rose McGowan react
Cohen says such statutes aren’t aimed at preventing accusers from suing or at protecting child molesters.
“They’re designed to make sure the evidence is sound, that memories haven’t faded to such an extent that people are not making them up as they go along. That’s something fundamental people are forgetting.”
Could an aggressive prosecutor or a clever lawyer bring charges or a lawsuit anyway? Sure, Cohen says, but “no matter how you do the math, it’s not going to work.”
Contributing: Andrea Mandell, Gary Levin and Kim Willis