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Sexual assault case against Kevin Spacey on shaky ground
[NANTUCKET] Kevin Spacey may avoid trial for sexual assault, as the case against him suffered a serious blow Monday when his accuser declined to testify due to fear of self-incrimination.
William Little accused the actor of groping him in a Massachusetts bar in July 2016. The actor, 59, was charged in January with indecent assault and battery.
The Massachusetts District Court judge for Nantucket, the posh island community where the alleged aggression took place, called on Little Monday to testify. Spacey was not present in the court.
But Mr Little chose to plead the Fifth Amendment, which allows citizens not to testify so as not to incriminate themselves, after it was revealed his cell phone - a key piece of evidence in the case - may have been compromised.
Mr Little has said he took a smartphone video of the incident, which he says took place when he was an 18-year-old busboy in a Nantucket bar and restaurant.
The smartphone images, which Mr Little said he shared with a then-girlfriend and a group of friends, allegedly show Spacey shoving his hand into the teen's pants and fondling him.
But the phone - which the defense wanted to examine - has disappeared, as confirmed by Mr Little and his parents, who were also called upon to testify Monday.
A police officer said he returned the phone to the family after extracting all the information but admitted he neglected to ask for a receipt upon return. The family said they never received the phone.
Interrogated at length about what he did with the phone and the messages on it, Mr Little insisted that he had not deleted anything.
But when warned that manipulating the information on the phone could result in charges being brought against him, Mr Little pled the Fifth.
Mr Little's mother Heather Unruh, a television news anchor known in the Boston area, admitted she had deleted some potentially embarrassing photos before giving the phone to the police but said she had not erased anything related to the alleged assault.
Spacey's lawyer Alan Jackson insinuated that text messages from Mr Little - who was a fan of the actor - that implied his consent in the situation had been deleted.
"This entire case is completely compromised," said Mr Jackson.
"This case needs to be dismissed and it needs to be dismissed today."
Although the judge did not make a decision, Spacey's defense team added it would promptly request that the case be dropped.
The prosecution did not rule dropping the case, but asked the judge for a week to decide.
Spacey has insisted on his innocence in the matter. The charges carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.
The allegation of sexual misconduct against the two-time Oscar winner was one of more than a dozen to emerge since 2017 in the wake of the #MeToo movement - in both the United States and Britain - with devastating effect on his acting career.
He was dropped from the cast of the popular House of Cards series and from a leading role in director Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World, Christopher Plummer was brought in as a last-second replacement.