Kevin Spacey’s lawyers on Wednesday wrapped up their case in Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp’s $40 million sexual misconduct suit against the embattled former star, with a psychiatrist hired by Spacey’s team as the last witness before jurors hear closing arguments scheduled for Thursday.
A lawyer for Rapp, Richard Steigman, spent the morning grilling the defense’s mental health expert, forensic psychiatrist Alexander Bardey, who testified that Spacey’s accuser isn’t afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder and instead shows traits of narcissism.
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Steigman challenged Bardey for saying that Rapp self-reported “off the charts” levels of trauma, anxiety and depression to the psychologist hired by Rapp’s legal team while showing moderate levels of mental distress, or none at all, on other tests that rely less on the test-taker’s own word.
Steigman produced one test Rapp took, a so-called “anxiety inventory,” with a maximum score of 63 indicating the highest levels of anxiety. Rapp’s score was 19. “Nineteen out of 63 — off the charts, right, doc?” Steigman said. Bardey said “off the charts” was his “clinical judgment” and an “assessment of the totality” of his own screening of Rapp.
Rapp’s mental state, and whether Spacey affected it, is a central question of this federal case in Manhattan, brought under a New York State law that allows decades-old allegations of sexual abuse to be tried after the normal statute of limitations. Rapp testified that in 1986, when he was 14, a 26-year-old Spacey physically picked him “like a groom picks up a bride,” placed him on a bed in Spacey’s apartment, and then climbed on top of him in an attempt to initiate sex.
Rapp testified that he wriggled free but it was still “the most traumatic single invent” in his life. The Rapp team’s psychologist, Lisa Rocchio, testified that Rapp has struggled with relationships, sexuality, anger, depression and ever since, and in 2017 developed delayed onset, full-blown PTSD.
Rapp’s lawyers sought to show that Rapp gave consistent answers across a battery of tests, some entirely self-reported and some designed to identify people who fake or exaggerate mental illness. Spacey’s lawyers have suggested that if Rapp isn’t faking symptoms to bolster his claim for millions of dollars in damages, he’s blaming Spacey for other, arguably more traumatic events in his life including another sexual encounter at age 14 that he wrote about unfavorably in his memoir.
Bardey said that Rapp telling friends over the years that Spacey abused him, but not his therapist until after he went public with his claim, was proof of a narcissistic tendency to turn the spotlight on himself. Steigman, in his last words on the matter, asked, “Are there narcissists who become A-list actors and win Tonys and other awards?,” an apparent reference to Tony and Oscar winner Spacey.
With that, Judge Lewis Kaplan sent jurors home until Thursday. He then entertained, and denied, a motion by defense lawyer Jay Barron — who already got the judge to throw out a claim of emotional distress — to throw out Rapp’s last remaining claim of physical battery. Kaplan also declined a motion to remove the punitive damages claim. But he indicated that he might revisit the questions while keeping the battery claim intact “at least for now,” and working with the lawyers to decide what, exactly, jurors will be asked to decide.
Rapp’s allegations were among several that made Spacey an early focus of the #MeToo movement in 2017. The American Beauty and The Usual Suspects Oscar winner and multiple Emmy nominee for House of Cards also faces trial in the UK for an alleged sexual assault, with that case set for June, and he is on the hook for $31 million awarded to House of Cards producers Media Rights Capital because the claims hastened the end of the show and were deemed a breach of his acting and producing agreements.
As with all the accusations against him made over the past several years, Spacey denies anything inappropriate ever occurred.
The trial is expected to wrap up this week.
Sean Piccoli contributed to this report.
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