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Anthony Rapp testifies alleged assault by Kevin Spacey was the 'most traumatic single event' of his life

He fought back tears after his lawyer asked whether he had lied. "I have not," the actor replied. "It was something that happened to me, and it was not OK."
Anthony Rapp
Anthony Rapp in New York on Jan. 23, 2016.John Lamparski / WireImage via Getty Images file

"Star Trek: Discovery" actor Anthony Rapp testified Wednesday that the moment Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey climbed on top of him at a New York City party in 1986 was "the most traumatic single event of my life" and caused "lingering impacts."

Rapp, on the witness stand for the second day, told jurors that reminders of Spacey feel like being poked with a "cattle prod," adding that he is sometimes plagued by "disturbing, invasive" thoughts about the alleged incident in Spacey's apartment.

Spacey denies Rapp's allegation, and his lawyers have argued that Rapp made up a story about a party to get attention and raise his professional profile. Rapp was 14 at the time, and Spacey was 26.

Rapp alleges that he met Spacey when they were each acting in Broadway shows in 1986 — Rapp with Ed Harris in "Precious Sons," and Spacey alongside Jack Lemmon in "Long Day's Journey into Night." Rapp claims Spacey invited him to a party at his apartment.

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey leaves federal court in New York on Oct. 6. Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

Rapp alleges that he did not recognize anyone at the party, so he went into a bedroom to watch TV. He testified that at some point, an apparently drunk Spacey entered the room, lifted him up, placed him on a bed and rested his body on top of him.

Rapp is seeking $40 million in damages.

Jennifer Keller, one of Spacey's lawyers, cross-examined Rapp for a second day Wednesday. She sought to portray Rapp as a bitter, struggling actor who was envious of Spacey's success and jealous of his accolades, including his two Oscars and Tony award.

Rapp tried to rebut that portrait during redirect examination from his lead attorney, Peter Saghir, testifying that while it "would certainly be nice" to win a Tony, he places a greater premium on being a "working actor" involved in "projects I care about."

"I never wanted Kevin Spacey's career," Rapp told jurors. "I wanted my career."

Rapp appeared to fight back tears when Saghir asked him if he has lied about his allegations. "I have not," Rapp replied. "It was something that happened to me, and it was not OK."

The remark came a day after Rapp admitted under oath that one of his publicly stated reasons for sharing his allegations with a reporter for BuzzFeed News was not true.

Rapp’s lawyers said in their opening statement last week that he was inspired to share his allegations with reporter Adam B. Vary after reading an article in which the Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o detailed a sexual harassment claim against Harvey Weinstein, who has denied all allegations of misconduct.

But a screenshot of a text message produced by Spacey’s lawyers Tuesday apparently showed that Rapp first contacted Vary eight days earlier, writing in part: “I am wanting to speak out about someone else very powerful in the industry.”

Nyong’o wrote about her allegations against Weinstein in an essay published in The New York Times on Oct. 19, 2017, according to a timestamp on the publication’s website. The newspaper published its first investigation of Weinstein‘s pattern of sexual misconduct on Oct. 5, 2017.

Weinstein is currently serving more than two decades in prison for a New York rape conviction, and he will soon go on trial in Los Angeles on separate sex crime charges. In late August, the New York State Court of Appeals allowed Weinstein to appeal his conviction of third-degree rape and one count of first-degree criminal sexual act.

Rapp’s text message to Vary was sent on Oct. 11, 2017, according to a screenshot shown to jurors on Tuesday.

Rapp did not dispute the accuracy of the text message, but in testimony Wednesday he tried to account for the apparent discrepancy.

He testified that while he recognizes that Nyong'o's essay was published before the BuzzFeed article, her article "cemented and confirmed" his interest in giving an interview about his alleged encounter with Spacey.

Rapp claimed that his initial text message to Vary was the beginning of an "exploratory" conversation about how the reporting process would work. He testified on Tuesday that he was not involved in the publication process and did not see a draft of the article before it was published.

Spacey's legal team has attempted to draw out other discrepancies in Rapp's account of events. Rapp testified that he recalls the alleged assault taking place in a bedroom, for example, but Spacey's lawyers claim their client lived in a studio apartment without a bedroom in 1986.

Rapp testified that he has shared his Spacey allegation with friends over the years, but he does not know "the number" of people he has told. He testified that he never reported his allegation to the police or any law enforcement agency.

Rapp explained that while he was close with his mother growing up, he did not tell her about his alleged encounter with Spacey because he did not want her to "worry" or put limits on his independence while they were living together in New York.

He also said that he did not include the allegation in his memoir, "Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical 'Rent,'" published in 2006.

He told jurors that the book was narrowly "centered" on his experiences acting in the original Broadway cast of "Rent" as well as the death of his mother.

In the afternoon, jurors heard testimony from Dr. Lisa Rocchio, a clinical and forensic psychologist who said she spent nine and a half hours with Rapp and found no evidence of "exaggeration" or "malingering," a case where a person feigns symptoms.

Rocchio testified that as an adolescent in the years after the alleged encounter, Rapp experienced "shame, uncertainty and confusion" — feelings she said were consistent with someone who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

She went on to tell jurors that, in 2017, Rapp "met the full DSMV-5 criteria" for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. She said his symptoms included "intrusive, unwanted thoughts" as well as "distress, emotional upset, sadness, anger and fear."

Spacey, wearing a dark gray suit and pale pink shirt with an orange patterned tie, listened intently during Rocchio's testimony.

Rocchio is expected to face cross-examination from Spacey's lawyers when the trial resumes on Thursday morning.

Rapp is a series regular on the Paramount+ show "Star Trek: Discovery." Spacey's career came to an abrupt halt after Rapp and other people publicly leveled sexual misconduct allegations against him.