Kevin Spacey criminal groping case dropped by prosecutors due to accuser's 'unavailability'
The criminal groping case against Kevin Spacey is over: Prosecutors in Nantucket, Massachusetts, announced late Wednesday they are dropping the charge that he sexually assaulted a teen bus boy in an island bar in the summer of 2016.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe filed a "Nolle Prosequi" document on Nantucket, declaring the case is dropped "due to the unavailability of the complaining witness."
At an eyebrow-raising pretrial hearing in the case last week on Nantucket, the accuser, William Little, now 21, abruptly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination while being questioned about the mysterious disappearance of his cellphone and whether he or his mother had deleted texts from the night in question.
That led Judge Thomas Barrett to strike all his testimony from earlier in the hearing, and raised questions about whether Little would be able and willing to testify for the prosecution against Spacey.
Barrett himself cast doubt on the state's case moving forward. He said the case “may well be dismissed” if the accuser refuses to testify. “The case revolves around this individual, and without him the Commonwealth will have a tough row to hoe," the judge said.
Thus ends the only criminal case brought so far against Oscar-winning Spacey since he became one of the first Hollywood figures to be accused of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct beginning in November 2017.
Spacey, 59, is still under investigation in Los Angeles and London, where multiple men have accused him of sexual assault in episodes dating back decades. Regardless of whether he ever faces a criminal prosecution on any of these allegations, his career as a Hollywood star is in tatters and probably over.
Little's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said in an email to USA TODAY that he would have no comment other than this: "My client and his family have shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances."
There was no immediate comment from Spacey's Los Angeles-based lead attorney, Alan Jackson.
O'Keefe, the district attorney, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY that he met with the accuser and his family and their lawyers on Sunday to discuss what to do.
"The complaining witness was informed that if he chose to continue to invoke his Fifth Amendment right, the case would not be able to go forward," O'Keefe's statement said. "After a further period of reflection privately with his lawyer, the complaining witness elected not to waive his right under the Fifth Amendment."
There were few other options. One would be to indict Spacey, immunize the accuser and force his testimony. But in a he-said-he-said case, that would have undermined the accuser's credibility before a jury, O'Keefe warned.
"A grant of immunity compromises the witness to a degree which, in a case where the credibility of the witness is paramount, makes the further prosecution untenable," O'Keefe concluded.
Jackson had demanded the case be dismissed after the hearing last week after Little invoked the Fifth Amendment.
“This entire case is completely compromised," Jackson told the judge. "This case needs to be dismissed, and it needs to be dismissed today.” The hearing concluded without a decision on whether the case would be dismissed; Barrett scheduled the next hearing for July 31.
The groping accusation against Spacey was first raised by Little's mother, former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh, who called a press conference in November 2017 to accuse Spacey of assaulting her son.
It was more than a year after the encounter between Spacey and Little in the Club Car bar and restaurant on the resort island, but just after the first of Spacey's accusers went public with an accusation he tried to rape an teenage actor decades ago.
O'Keefe charged Spacey with one count of felony indecent assault more than a year later. He was arrested and arraigned in January 2019.
Little's cellphone quickly became a key piece of evidence that could have been used by both sides. Prosecutors argued that Little's texts to his girlfriend and friends during his encounter with Spacey bolstered his story that he and Spacey were drinking (even though he was underage) and Spacey put his hands down Little's pants.
Spacey's defense team argued that there were texts on the phone that could exonerate Spacey, by suggesting Little misled Spacey about his age and whether he consented to being touched. Jackson demanded access to the phone itself to retrieve all of the texts, arguing that the accuser or his mother could have deleted exculpatory texts.
But the phone mysteriously went missing and there was a dispute about who had it last. The state police records said they gave it to Little's father but Garabedian said the family denied that. He said they looked for the phone and failed to find it.
The hearing convened on July 8 with no phone and no Spacey (he was not required to be there). Attorneys questioned the accuser and his parents; they denied knowing what happened to the phone and denied deleting texts.
When Jackson asked Little whether he was aware that deleting evidence is a crime in Massachusetts, Little responded, "I am now."
The exchange prompted Judge Barrett to break for a lengthy recess. When the hearing resumed, the judge announced a bombshell: Little had invoked the Fifth. The judge struck his testimony from the court's record.