The media wanted a nice coming out story, but Twitter wasn’t having it.
Following last night’s bombshell allegations from actor Anthony Rapp that Kevin Spacey attempted to sexually assault him when he was 14-years-old, Spacey released a statement apologizing for his behavior but maintains that he can’t remember the encounter.
Rapp, who plays one of the main roles in the new “Star Trek” TV series, accused Spacey of sexual misconduct in 1986. The allegations were met with shockwaves through the London theater community when, in wake of the news, Royal Court Theater boss Vicky Featherstone said that many in the acting industry heard of concerns about him.
“I think that many people in the theatre and in the creative industries have been aware of many stories of many people over a lot of years, and Kevin Spacey would be one of the people that people have had concerns about, yes,” said Featherstone.
Spacey performed for over 10 years at The Old Vic, playing roles in Richard II, Inherit the Wind, Clarence Darrow, and several other regular plays.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Rapp, who’s now 46, said that he attended a party held at Spacey’s New York apartment. He claimed that he befriended the older actor as the only non-adult there. Becoming bored, Rapp went into the bedroom to watch TV after midnight, when he realized everyone else had left. He said that Spacey entered the bedroom, picked him up, and climbed up on top of him in an unsolicited sexual advance.
“My memory was that I thought, ‘Oh, everybody’s gone. Well, yeah, I should probably go home,’ ” Rapp said, adding that he thought Spacey “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk.” He said that after Spacey, who would have been 26 at the time, lay on top of him for a period of time until Rapp was able to “squirm” away.
Rapp says he’s told the story to friends and family about the incident over the years, and was prompted by the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein to speak about his own experience after watching other women come forward with their experiences in Hollywood.
“And not to simply air a grievance,” he said, “but to try to shine another light on the decades of behavior that have been allowed to continue because many people, including myself, being silent. … I’m feeling really awake to the moment that we’re living in, and I’m hopeful that this can make a difference.”
Spacey responded on Twitter hours later.
— Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) October 30, 2017
Rather than face the accusation head on, Spacey used it as an opportunity to “come out” by “choosing to live as a gay man.”
Responding to his apology, Rosie O’Donnell took to Twitter in a now-deleted post, condemning Spacey, and admitting she and others have long known of his behavior and failed to act. O’Donnell continued to blast the A-lister on Twitter, calling his coming-out opportunism “gross.”
Spacey’s apology was swiftly condemned by many, including “It Gets Better” creator Dan Savage, who wrote that “There’s no amount of drink or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.”
Nope to Kevin Spacey's statement. Nope. There's no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) October 30, 2017
Rose McGowan, who alleges that Harvey Weinstein raped her, and was key in launching the #MeToo campaign for victims to speak out against their abusers in Hollywood, urged the media to share Rapp’s voice.
Dear fellow media:
Keep focus on #AnthonyRapp BE THE VICTIM'S VOICE. Help us level the playing field.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 30, 2017
Billy Eichner shared similar words condemning the actor.
That Kevin Spacey statement. Nope. Absolutely not. Nope.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017
Others like author comedian Guy Branum referred to Spacey’s “coming out” as a “PR smokescreen” intended to distract from the real story.
The classiest way to come out of the closet is as a PR smokescreen to distract people from the fact that you tried to molest a child.
— Guy Branum (@guybranum) October 30, 2017
Despite the anger leveled against Spacey, some outlets, including ABC News and New York Daily News covered the story without mentioning Rapp’s allegations, preferring to focus instead on Spacey’s sexual orientation. They were swiftly called out.
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) October 30, 2017
remember the press is often just as much of trash as the perverts themselves pic.twitter.com/NZXyz8QShP
— Joe Gabriel Simonson (@SaysSimonson) October 30, 2017
ABC News covered his decision to come out as an “emotional tweet,” and New York Daily News’ headline was titled simply: “Kevin spacey comes out as gay.”
The outlets have since revised their headlines and stories following widespread condemnation on Twitter.