WORLD

Elton John lends celebrity testimony to Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault trial

Jul 17, 2023, 3:44 AM | Updated: 11:38 am

LONDON (AP) — Kevin Spacey ‘s lawyers enlisted the help of an A-list star Monday in his sexual assault trial, calling on Elton John and his husband to cast doubt on one of the Oscar winner’s accusers at the end of the defense case.

John appeared briefly in the London court by video link from Monaco after his husband, David Furnish, testified that Spacey did not attend an annual gala ball at their Windsor home at the time that the accuser said he was attacked in a car.

John was the final witness for the defense and was followed by character testimonials from colleagues, friends and family that had Spacey in tears in the dock when they were read aloud by his lawyer in Southwark Crown Court.

Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges that include sexual and indecent assault counts and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

One of the alleged victims said he was driving Spacey to the White Tie & Tiara Ball in 2004 or 2005 when the actor grabbed his crotch so forcefully that he almost ran off the road.

Furnish supported Spacey’s own testimony that the only year he had attended the event was 2001. Furnish said he had reviewed photographs taken at the party from 2001 to 2005 and Spacey only appeared in images that one year. He said all guests were photographed each year.

John, who was wearing yellow tinted glasses, a dark jacket and light blue open-collar shirt, said the actor attended the party once in the early 2000s and arrived after flying to England on a private jet.

Spacey’s appearance was a surprise and memorable because it was a big deal, said Furnish, a filmmaker and John’s manager, who also appeared from Monaco.

“He was an Oscar-winning actor and there was a lot of buzz and excitement that he was at the ball,” said Furnish.

John said the actor spent the night at their house after the event. He also confirmed that Spacey bought a Mini Cooper at the auction held that night for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Spacey said he spent the most money “ever” on that model of car and he kept it in John’s garage until he could pick it up later.

The alleged victim said he may have gotten the year wrong, but that he would not have forgotten the incident because it took his breath away and he was driving and almost crashed the car.

The timeline, however, is important because the man testified that Spacey had fondled him over several years beginning in the early 2000s. The incident was the final occasion, he said. He threatened to hit the actor and after that avoided him.

Spacey said the two were friends and they engaged in some romantic contact but the man was straight, so the actor respected his wishes not to go further. He said he was crushed when he learned the man had complained to police about him and said the man had “reimagined” what had been consensual touching.

Furnish said he was familiar with the accuser and described him as “charming,” the same term Spacey used.

Over two days of testimony last week, the two-time Academy Award winner insisted that he never sexually assaulted three of the four accusers who described disturbing encounters between 2001 and 2013. The acts allegedly escalated from unwanted touching to aggressive fondling to one instance of performing oral sex act on an unconscious man.

Spacey dismissed one man’s fondling claims as “pure fantasy” and said he shared consensual encounters with two others who later regretted it. He accepted the claims of a fourth man, saying he had made a “clumsy pass” during a night of heavy drinking, but he took exception to the “crotch-grabbing” characterization.

Defense lawyer Patrick Gibbs rested his case after reading statements from 10 character witnesses who praised the actor’s work and compassion toward others.

Spacey dabbed at his eyes with a tissue as Gibbs read the words of actor Robert Sean Leonard, known for his role on the TV show “House” and the movie “Dead Poets Society.” Leonard said Spacey was “positive, supportive and respectful” and someone he admired greatly.

“He’s more than a successful actor, he’s a movie star, but unlike every other movie star I’ve worked with, he doesn’t know it,” Leonard said. “Stardom was never his goal. He loves and respects the work, and he loves and respects the people he works with.”

Closing arguments are expected later in the week. Spacey is free on bail.

John’s testimony came just over a week after he wrapped up his 50-year touring career with a show in Stockholm.

It’s the second time the “Rocket Man” star and Furnish have made appearances in a London courtroom this year. The two also showed for hearings in March at the High Court in their phone hacking lawsuit with Prince Harry against the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper.

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