Actor Kevin Spacey appeared in a Massachusetts district court on Monday to face accusations that he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man in Nantucket — a felony charge that was recently filed over an incident that occurred in 2016.
"A not guilty plea was entered on the defendant's behalf" to the charge of indecent assault and battery, the district attorney's office said.
"Spacey never said a word," member station WBUR's Frederic Thys reports.
Spacey was released on his own recognizance; within an hour, he was back aboard the private jet that brought him to Nantucket for the court session.
The hearing came two weeks after Nantucket District Attorney Michael O'Keefe filed a criminal complaint against Spacey, identifying him in court documents by his legal name of Kevin S. Fowler.
In Monday's court session, Judge Thomas Barrett ordered Spacey "to stay away from his alleged victim," Thys reports.
Barrett also granted a request from Spacey's defense attorney, Alan Jackson, who asked that texts between the young man and his girlfriend be preserved, covering a period of six months past the date of the alleged assault.
Because of intense public interest in the case, a crowd packed into the small courtroom to see Spacey. But the famous actor spoke only to confer briefly with his attorney. The next court date is scheduled for March 4, when a pretrial hearing will be held. Spacey will not be required to attend that session.
Standing in court, Spacey offered no response as the charge against was read aloud. Instead of being asked to enter a plea, the judge told him that if another charge is filed against him while this case is open, he could be held for 90 days without bail. Then attorneys in the case moved on to discuss procedural matters.
Spacey, 59, is accused of groping a man who was working as a busboy at the Club Car, a bar on Nantucket island, in July of 2016. If convicted of the felony charge, he face a possible prison sentence of up to five years.
The alleged victim is the son of former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh, who has spoken publicly about the incident — one in a string of sexual assault accusations against the former House of Cards star.
In 2017, Unruh said at a news conference that Spacey had forced himself on her son. "Spacey stuck his hand inside my son's pants and grabbed his genitals," Unruh said. She added that her son initially had wanted to keep quiet about the alleged assault — but that the #MeToo movement led him to speak out.
Spacey's defense team has said the young man's delay in reporting the incident undermines the credibility of his claims.
After the formal charge against him was announced, Spacey released a video in which he seemed to attempt to refute the charges.
In that video, titled "Let Me Be Frank," Spacey spoke in character as his House of Cards persona Frank Underwood, addressing the camera as he stood in a kitchen wearing a Santa Claus apron.
"I can promise you this," Spacey said, "If I didn't pay the price for the things we both know I did do, I'm certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn't do."