Spacey under fire over teen 'sexual advance' claim

NEW YORK: Coming out as gay, Kevin Spacey sparked a furious backlash Monday over accusations, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, that he made sexual advances on a 14-year-old boy more than 30 years ago.

The 58-year-old stage and cinema actor, double Oscar winner and most recently star of the American version of House of Cards has been widely considered one of the finest actors of his generation with a glittering stable of career credits.

But on Monday he came under a torrent of fire on social media over claims from fellow actor Anthony Rapp that he tried to molest him at a party 31 years ago while Rapp was a teenager, and was accused of trying to deflect the story by finally confirming what has been an open secret in Hollywood for years — that he is gay.

Rapp, 46, told Buzzfeed that in 1986, while both he and Spacey were performing on Broadway, Spacey invited the then 14-year-old to a party at his New York home. Spacey would have been 26 at the time.

Rapp said he was in Spacey's bedroom watching TV when Spacey, "kind of swaying" and apparently drunk, came in after all the other guests had left, picked him up, put him on the bed and lay on top of him.

"He was trying to seduce me," Rapp told Buzzfeed. "I don't know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually."

Rapp said he squirmed away after a brief period of time and went into the bathroom. Shortly after, he left Spacey's apartment and went home.

Spacey responded within hours, posting on his Twitter account at midnight East Coast time that he was "beyond horrified" by Rapp's account.

He claimed he did not remember the encounter but that "if I did behave ... as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."

He went on to say that Rapp's accusation "encouraged me to address other things about my life."

"I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior."

Bye, bye

The online backlash was swift from celebrities, commentators and members of the LGBT community.

"Bye bye, Spacey goodbye, it's your turn to cry, that's why we've gotta say goodbye," tweeted Rose McGowan, one of the first actresses to accuse disgraced Hollywood producer Weinstein of rape.

"No no no no no! You do not get to 'choose' to hide under the rainbow!" said comedian and actress Wanda Sykes, who came out as lesbian in 2008.

"Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out," said comedian, actor and television host Billy Eichner, calling his statement "truly disgusting, irresponsible and dangerous."

The lawyer, editor and activist Glenn Greenwald, best known for his reporting on US surveillance and whistleblower Edward Snowden, was also critical.

"Kevin Spacey has immense wealth (and) fame, and yet never came out as a gay man until he needed a distraction from this story – (and) sympathy," said Greenwald, who is gay.

"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," tweeted advice columnist and LGBT activist Dan Savage.

Rapp, who is best known for being part of the original cast of hit Broadway musical Rent, stressed that at the time a young teen going alone to a party at an adult actor's home was not considered a cause for concern.

"It was a different era," he said, adding that he felt compelled to speak out after a recent deluge of accusations against Weinstein sparked an examination of abuses committed by powerful men in the entertainment industry.

Accusing Spacey was "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."

Since early October nearly 60 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, have accused Weinstein of misconduct including rape, sexual abuse and harassment. He denies non-consensual sex but his career is in tatters. — AFP