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Kevin Spacey attends a pretrial hearing at district court in Nantucket, Massachusetts (file photo) Steven Senne/PA Images

Kevin Spacey could avoid trial for sexual assault after accuser declines to testify

The actor was charged with indecent assault and battery in January.

ACTOR KEVIN SPACEY may avoid a trial for sexual assault, after his accuser declined to testify in the case out of a fear of self-incrimination.

The 59 year-old was charged with indecent assault and battery in January, when William Little accused Spacey of groping him in a bar in the state of Massachusetts in July 2016.

The Massachusetts District Court judge for Nantucket, where the alleged incident took place, called for Little to testify yesterday. Spacey was not present in the court.

However, Little chose to plead the Fifth Amendment after it was revealed that his cell phone – a key piece of evidence in the case – may have been compromised.

The constitutional right allows US citizens not to testify against themselves in court cases.

Little has said he took a smartphone video of the incident involving Spacey, which he says took place when he was an 18-year-old busboy in a Nantucket bar and restaurant.

The smartphone images, which Little said he shared with a then-girlfriend and a group of friends, allegedly show Spacey sexually assaulting the then-teenager.

But the phone – which the defence sought to examine – has disappeared, as confirmed by Little and his parents, who were also called upon to testify yesterday.

A police officer said he had returned the phone to the family after extracting information from it, but admitted that he forgot to ask for a receipt upon its return.

The family allege that they never received the phone.

Interrogated at length about what he did with the phone and the messages that were on it, Little insisted that he had not deleted anything.

But when he was warned that manipulating the information on the phone could result in charges being brought against him, Little pled the fifth.

His mother Heather Unruh, a television news anchor known in the Boston area, admitted that 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 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 Jackson. “This case needs to be dismissed and it needs to be dismissed today.”

Although the judge did not make a decision, Spacey’s defence team added that it would promptly request that the case be dropped.

The prosecution did not rule out 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 the UK – with a devastating effect on his acting career.

Following the allegations, he was dropped from the cast of Netflix’s House of Cards and from a leading role in director Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019

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