Kevin Spacey makes first court appearance to face sex-crime charge – USA TODAY

Kevin Spacey stood in a Massachusetts courtroom Monday to face a sex-crime charge that he groped a teenage busboy in a bar on Nantucket Island in 2016. He did not voice his expected plea of not guilty but it was entered on his behalf, and the judge set his next court date for March 4. 

But first Spacey, 59, faced a massive media scrum of cameras of the sort he’s been avoiding for more than a year, both coming into and leaving the courthouse. 

The two-time Oscar-winning actor had said in court documents he would plead not guilty to a charge of felony indecent assault and battery.

Under Massachusetts court rules, a defendant can waive the reading of the complaint at arraignment, which Spacey did, and a plea can be entered on his behalf by his lawyer. Spacey himself did not have to say the words “not guilty.”

Spacey arrived in the tiny courtroom jammed with media people, wearing a suit, tie and sweater vest, looking tired and unsmiling. He said nothing, but mouthed “thank you” at the conclusion of the hearing.

Judge Thomas Barrett ordered Spacey to have no contact with his accuser or his accuser’s family, and he was released. He also ruled Spacey did not have to personally appear for the March hearing, but said he needs to be available by phone.

No bail was sought but he was warned that if he is accused of a similar crime, Spacey could be imprisoned for 90 days without bail. 

The judge granted a request by Spacey’s lawyers to preserve the accuser’s cellphone data for six months after the alleged assault. Spacey defense lawyer Alan Jackson said there is data that is “likely exculpatory” for Spacey.

Spacey and his lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse amid a crush of reporters.

Adam Citron, a New York lawyer who is familiar with Massachusetts criminal law, said it appearedthat the state intends to treat Spacey like any other criminal defendant. 

“He’s not getting any preferential treatment, they’re treating him like anyone else,” Citron said. “And it’s interesting that the prosecutors are treading lightly in that they didn’t ask for bail other than stay away from the complainant. They’re being very conservative (in their approach).”

Spacey’s arraignment on the charge comes more than a year after former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh accused the ex “House of Cards” star of sexually assaulting her son, then 18, in the crowded Club Car restaurant bar where the teen worked as a busboy in the summer of 2016.

Going in and out of the courthouse, Spacey walked a gauntlet of bellowing reporters and photographers, but inside the courtroom there was no drama. 

About 20 minutes before the proceeding was to start, network TV cameras on helicopters and drones were trained on and following a car they said was carrying Spacey to the courthouse from the local airport. 

When he got to the courthouse door, there were so many cameras around him he was hard to see. 

The media’s mission: to capture Spacey’s “perp walk,” the first official images of the shamed star since he disappeared from public view more than a year ago as multiple men came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct dating back decades and crossing multiple jurisdictions. 

Neither Spacey nor his lawyers, Los Angeles-based Jackson and local lawyer Juliane Balliro, spoke to the media before or after the arraignment. As Spacey left the courthouse, he ignored the shouted questions from the media. 

Spacey had sought to avoid this scene, insisting he didn’t need to be physically present to enter a plea. His lawyers filed a motion to seeking approval for Spacey to skip appearing in person at his arraignment to avoid tainting a potential jury pool before trial. 

Spacey’s team argued in court papers that his presence “will amplify the negative publicity already generated in connection with this case.”

But Judge Barrett denied the motion without explaining his reasons. Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office weighed in by arguing against excusing Spacey, citing Rule 7 of the state criminal code. 

Although Spaceyhas been accused by more than a dozen men of sexual misconduct, the Nantucket charge, revealed at the end of December 2018, is the first and so far sole criminal charge against him. (He is still under investigation in Los Angeles and London.)

It also makes him only the second man to be criminally charged out of dozens of entertainment and media figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct since October 2017 and the subsequent surge of the #MeToo movement.

Spacey’s lawyers and publicists say he has consistently denied any non-consensual sex with anyone. Aside from a statement he issued apologizing to his first accuser, actor Anthony Rapp, and also coming out as gay, Spacey has said nothing to the media.

But after the charge against him became public on Dec. 24, within hours Spacey posted a baffling video of himself on YouTube in which he pretended to be his “House of Cards” character, Frank Underwood, and suggested people should not believe “the worst without evidence.”

Spacey’s video brought a surge of mocking, outraged tweets from celebs and non-celebs alike. “Creepy,” pronounced actress Alyssa Milano, an outspoken activist in the #MeToo movement. Lawyers questioned whether Spacey’s move was rash legally speaking, while public relations experts wondered if he had done himself more harm than good in the court of public opinion. 

Few of the #MeToo accused have suffered as precipitous a fall as Spacey. His life, career and reputation were shattered in the days after Rapp publicly accused him of attempted statutory rape in Spacey’s New York apartment in 1986 when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 27.

Spacey was subsequently fired from his starring role in “House of Cards,” was edited out of a major movie, lost a deal to make a Gore Vidal bio-pic, was accused of sexual misconduct by 20 people at London’s Old Vic theater where he was artistic director for more than a decade, and came under investigation by police in multiple jurisdictions. Eventually he fled to a sex-addiction rehab center in Arizona, where paparazzi snapped surreptitious pictures of him. 

Then he disappeared from public view, only to turn up last week in a luxury townhouse in Baltimore’s pricey Inner Harbor (“House of Cards” was made in Baltimore), where a tabloid photographer captured pictures of him in a baseball cap reading “Retired since 2017.” Spacey bought the photographer a Domino’s pizza and told him to “have a happy New Year.” 

The Nantucket case emerged in November 2017 when Unruh called a press conference in Boston to accuse Spacey of getting her son drunk and sticking his hands down his pants in the restaurant bar where her son was working as a busboy in the summer of 2016.

On Monday, Unruh’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, emailed a statement on behalf of Unruh’s son, declining to comment on the criminal case but praising Spacey’s accuser.

“By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted. My client is leading by example,” Garabedian’s statement said.

The investigation of Unruh’s son’s allegation was conducted by the Massachusetts State Police. On Dec. 20, at a probable-cause hearing in Nantucket District Court, a local magistrate heard evidence presented by the state police – and cross-examined by Spacey’s lawyer – and ruled there was enough to proceed with charging Spacey. 

Among the evidence presented: A three-minute phone video shot by the accuser who told police it showed Spacey groping him, and that he sent it to his girlfriend via Snapchat who confirmed she saw it before it disappeared. 

Jackson elicited testimony from an investigator who conceded that the video didn’t show it was Spacey’s hand touching the front of someone’s pants.

Testimony also showed that the accuser lied to Spacey about his age, that he drank with Spacey even though he was too young to drink, that he approached Spacey first in the bar, that he exchanged phone numbers with Spacey, and that he did not move away or tell Spacey to stop for up to three minutes while he was allegedly being groped.

If convicted, Spacey faces up to five years in prison.

Contributing: The Associated Press 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Questions surface over Kevin Spacey’s ‘secret court’ hearing – The Boston Globe

Questions surface over Kevin Spacey’s ‘secret court’ hearing
Globe Staff
Before Monday’s arraignment, the actor’s lawyers were given a special opportunity to have his case reviewed in a mini-trial-type setting where records are kept out of public view.
By Matt Rocheleau

Kevin Spacey in 2016.

The Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey has tried to limit publicity about recent sexual-assault charges against him, and officials in the Massachusetts judiciary seem largely to have refused him preferential treatment.

But the Globe has found that in the months leading up to his arraignment — set for Monday — the actor’s lawyers were given a special opportunity to have his case reviewed in a mini-trial-type setting where potential charges can be dropped and records kept out of public view.

Such hearings — overseen by clerk magistrates and typically closed to the public — have been the focus of recent Globe Spotlight Team investigations into this often-hidden part of the state’s criminal justice system.


Even though Spacey’s lawyers failed at that Dec. 20 hearing to derail the criminal case before arraignment, questions remain about why his attorneys were given the opportunity in the first place — and who initiated the idea.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.

These proceedings, called “show-cause” hearings, are used primarily to assess if there is enough evidence to bring charges, and suspects have a legal right to these hearings only in misdemeanor cases. Spacey, however, was facing a felony charge.

Questions about this aspect of Spacey’s legal proceedings come as the 59-year-old actor — known for his roles in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and the films “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects” — faces more than a dozen sexual-assault accusations in numerous cities.

His current case in Nantucket, in which he is expected to plead not guilty, surfaced in November 2017.

It began when a former Boston TV anchor, Heather Unruh, announced at a press conference that Spacey had met her then-18-year-old son at the Club Car bar on the island in 2016, bought alcohol for him until he was drunk, and sexually assaulted him by sticking his hand inside the teenager’s pants.

In November 2017, Heather Unruh discussed the allegations that her son was allegedly sexually assaulted by Kevin Spacey. Unruh with her lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, and her daughter, Kyla.


Prosecutors vowed to talk to the alleged victim, and for months last year, State Police troopers assigned to the office of Cape and Island District Attorney Michael O’Keefe quietly investigated.

A spokeswoman for O’Keefe’s office said that a state trooper traveled to Nantucket District Court on Sept. 20 and presented the written results of his investigation to the presiding clerk, Donald Hart. As with other felony charges in District Court, the trooper was required to get the clerk’s sign-off in order for Spacey to be formally charged in a public arraignment. For felonies, it is typically a review of the paperwork that outlines the main evidence.

Nantucket District Court is located on the second floor of the downtown Nantucket Town & County Building.

The trooper’s application for a criminal complaint showed he had interviewed the complainant and others with whom he had spoken that night about the alleged assault, as well as viewed a brief Snapchat video of the alleged incident.

But, prosecutors say, clerk magistrate Hart raised questions about whether Unruh’s son may have agreed in some way to a sexual encounter and wanted to speak to him.

“After reviewing the materials for a time, Magistrate Hart indicated he had questions concerning the issue of consent and wanted to hear from the complaining witness and would require a show cause hearing,” Assistant District Attorney Tara L. Miltimore said in an e-mail.


She insisted it was Hart — and never the trooper — who requested the hearing.

Miltimore did not answer questions about whether the trooper or anyone else from that office openly objected to Hart’s allegedly ordering a hearing.

Miltimore also said the trooper told the clerk the alleged victim was studying abroad and would not be available until December.

Spacey’s show-cause hearing stands out because he was facing a felony charge of indecent assault and battery. Massachusetts court rules set a higher bar for such serious charges to get a more informal — and typically closed — clerk magistrate hearing, saying they can be ordered only if police request it.

Typically in these proceedings, the clerks — many of whom do not have law degrees — are reviewing evidence supplied by police against someone who has not been arrested. Often, in a particularly controversial part of their work, they try to work out mediation-like settlements, in return for dismissing the case.

Hart, a former attorney in Weymouth and Holbrook who was appointed to his $155,000-a-year clerk magistrate post about five years ago, declined to speak to the Globe about the case.

“I’m not going to talk about it,” said Hart, who retired in mid-December.

Other top court officials declined to comment, citing the case as a pending matter. Another clerk magistrate, Brian Kearney, who ultimately held the hearing because of Hart’s retirement, told the Globe that he was told by Hart that it was the police who requested the hearing.

Spacey’s attorneys, Boston lawyer Juliane Balliro and Los Angeles lawyer Alan Jackson, did not respond to requests for comment.

Court records seem to back up the prosecutor’s account. The application for the criminal complaint, filled out by the principal investigator, TrooperGerald Donovan, does not show he checked any of the available boxes indicating a request for such a hearing.

As of last fall, the issue of these private clerk-magistrate hearings was starting to get substantial public attention.

In late September, The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team began publishing investigative stories that raised questions about this part of the criminal justice system, in which clerks operate largely in private and dismiss thousands of cases even when they find probable cause to charge someone. Many clerks, however, defend the system as a way for baseless charges to be weeded out, without stigmatizing the accused with unwanted publicity.

In the fall, the Globe filed a lawsuit against the heads of the trial court, asking that the files in cases in which probable cause was found but the charges were dismissed be made public. A justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, David Lowy, held a hearing on the case Dec. 27. Last week, he asked the parties for additional information and has yet to rule.

Boston, MA - 10/04/18 - John Adams Courthouse. It is home to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter: () Topic: ()

Some clerks who defend the system say their hearings focus on minor cases, but data show that one of eight cases involved felonies, including attempted murder, rape, and kidnapping.

Court guidelines say clerks should consider opening the hearings to the public in high-profile cases to promote trust in the system. But the Globe found a number of cases against public officials — and even a judge — in which the “show cause” hearings were closed and the requests for charges were dismissed.

Spacey’s hearing was held Dec. 20, and there is no indication that anyone other than his lawyers, the trooper, and the alleged victim and his family were in the Nantucket courtroom.

An audio recording of that 36-minute hearing includes the clerk, Kearney, saying at some point that the hearing was “public.” Kearney typically works in Natick District Court but was assigned to handle the Spacey hearing and other matters that day because of Hart’s retirement.

Speaking by phone Friday, Kearney said he declared it “public” on his own that day — despite no advance public notice of the event — because it was “a high-profile case.”

During the hearing, the alleged victim was presentbut was never called by Kearney to testify. Kearney oversaw what amounted to an informal discussion and a review of evidence, including hearing from the trooper and Spacey’s lawyers.

Kearney ruled there was enough evidence to issue a sexual-assault charge and scheduled an arraignment. Once that happened, Spacey’s case fully entered the public realm — where virtually all court documents are required to be public and future proceedings are listed on a public court calendar.

Spacey’s attorneys tried to rush his arraignment at the hearing’s conclusion, saying the actor was on the island and could make his initial court appearance that afternoon. Kearney told them no judge was available and denied the request.

Spacey’s criminal charges became public only after the Globe received a tipster’s phone call and scrambled to verify that through calls, including to the Nantucket courthouse. Efforts to find online court records were hampered by the fact Spacey is listed under his legal name, Kevin Fowler.

On Dec. 24, District Attorney O’Keefe
confirmed to the Globe that charges against Spacey had been issued.

Spacey’s lawyers subsequently asked a District Court judge if the actor could be spared a public arraignment, saying the publicity would be prejudicial. But once the case was
beyond the clerk-magistrate hearing, there would be little precedent for allowing Spacey to avoid public scrutiny. The request was denied.

His arraignment is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday in Nantucket District Court.

Todd Wallack of the Globe staff contributed to this report. He can be reached at Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.
The Spotlight Team’s coverage of the private clerk-magistrate system is at

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

The man arrested for the murder 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes may not have been the shooter. Here's everything we know about the potential case of 'mistaken identity'

jazmine barnes rally

  • Authorities in Texas have charged Eric Black Jr. for the murder of seven-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed in a drive-by shooting on December 30.
  • The shooter was once believed to be a white male in his 30s or 40s, but the man charged on Sunday is a 20-year-old black male.
  • Black’s affidavit states that he drove the car, while another passenger fired the bullets.
  • Officials now believe the case is one of “mistaken identity.” 

What began as a harrowing emblem of racially-motivated killings in America has taken a surprising turn. 

After a weeklong investigation into the murder of seven-year-old Jazmine Barnes, authorities finally landed on a suspect, 20-year-old Eric Black Jr, who was charged on Sunday with capital murder. 

Barnes was killed in a drive-by shooting with her mother at the wheel and three sisters in the car.

Read more: FBI report shows 17% spike in hate crimes

Investigators originally identified the suspect as a white male, leading many — including Barnes’ mother — to believe that the killing was racially motivated.

Now authorities say that Barnes and her family may not have been targets, but the case is not over yet. Black’s affidavit states that he drove the car, while another passenger fired the bullets.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Second-grader Jazmine Barnes was killed in a drive-by shooting on the morning of December 30, 2018.

Barnes was riding in the car with her mother and three sisters. The family was on their way to Joe V’s Smart Shop, a grocery store in Texas, to get supplies for breakfast.

At around 7 a.m., a man opened fire on their vehicle. Two of the sisters remained unharmed, but the third was hit by shattered glass. Barnes’ mother, LaPorsha Washington, was shot in the arm. 

Within minutes, Barnes was pronounced dead.

Thousands of people pitched in to cover funeral expenses — including Shaquille O’Neal and NFL star DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, said Barnes reminded him of his own daughter. He pledged to give his $29,000 playoff check to Barnes’ family.

“I will be playing in your honor, Jazmine,” he wrote on Twitter.

On January 3, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal reportedly dropped off a check, along with Houston police officer Kenneth Miles, to help cover the funeral costs.

Many others have donated to a GoFundMe page started by Barnes’ father, Chris Cevilla.

Law enforcement officials released a sketch of the suspect, which they believed to be a white man in his 30s or 40s.

An attorney advising the Barnes family told CNN that at least four independent witnesses had identified the suspect as a white male wearing a black hoodie in a red truck.

At the time, Barnes’ mother believed that the shooting could have been racially motivated.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Source link