Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault trial has been thrown into doubt after his accuser died before the case could be heard in court.
The alleged victim, a massage therapist identified only as John Doe, claimed the American actor groped him at a house in Malibu, California, in October 2016. He filed a civil suit against the Oscar winner for sexual battery, gender violence, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
A hearing for the trial was scheduled for next May, but Spacey’s lawyers revealed in a court filing this week that the man had recently died, leaving the future of the proceedings uncertain.
The accuser’s estate has a 90-day time limit to be substituted into the lawsuit in order for it to proceed.
The man’s lawyer, Genie Harrison, accused Spacey’s legal team of manoeuvring to get the case dismissed, describing the court filing as “undignified, insensitive and inappropriate”.
She described her client as a “dignified, kind, middle-aged man” who was left “traumatised” by the alleged attack. Spacey, 60, has denied all the allegations.
Harrison insisted her client’s “fight for justice is still very much alive”, saying that other alleged victims of Spacey had come forward.
The accuser filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles last September.
He claimed that during a massage, Spacey forced him to touch his genitals and then asked if he could perform oral sex on him.
It is one of a number of allegations of sexual misconduct Spacey has faced since the MeToo movement shone a spotlight on the prevalence of sexual harassment in Hollywood.
Earlier this year, prosecutors dropped a separate sexual assault case against Spacey in the state of Massachusetts after the accuser refused to testify about a missing phone which the actor’s lawyers claimed would prove his innocence.
Spacey, who served as artistic director at The Old Vic theatre in London between 2004 and 2015, also faces six allegations of sexual assault in the UK between 1996 and 2013.