A man accusing Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey of sexually abusing him in the 1980s when he was 14 cannot proceed anonymously in court, a judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan refused to let the man proceed only as “C.D.” in a lawsuit filed in September in New York state court and later moved to federal court.
The man had met Spacey in the actor's suburban New York acting class before the alleged abuse, according to the lawsuit which seeks over $40 million in damages.
Kaplan said C.D.’s privacy interest does not outweigh the presumption of open judicial proceedings and the prejudice to Spacey's defense that would occur if he could proceed anonymously. Individuals with information that might support Spacey also would not know to come forward, the judge added.
C.D. since the 1990s had spoken to an unknown number of people about his claims against Spacey and had apparently cooperated for a New York magazine article that appeared on an online website, “Vulture,” in November 2017, Kaplan said.
He said “the evidence suggests that C.D. knowingly and repeatedly took the risk that any of these individuals at one point or another would reveal his true identity in a manner that would bring that identity to wide public attention.”
Kaplan noted that C.D. also recruited for the lawsuit his co-plaintiff, Anthony Rapp, who has appeared in “Rent” on Broadway and in “Star Trek: Discovery” on television. The lawsuit said the older actor made a sexual advance to a teenage Rapp at a 1980s party.
When Rapp first spoke publicly of his claim in 2017, others went public too and Spacey’s then-celebrated career abruptly halted. At the time, Spacey issued a statement saying he didn’t remember the encounter but apologized.
The judge said claims by C.D.'s lawyers that using their client's name would trigger post traumatic stress disorder and the anxiety, nightmares and depression that come with it is a consequence that likely cannot be prevented as the case proceeds and C.D. is ultimately forced to testify in public.
He gave lawyers 10 days to reveal C.D.'s name if he continued to make the claims.
In an early March letter to the judge, attorney Peter Saghir said C.D. feels “extreme anxiety and psychological distress at even the thought of being required to proceed publicly” and had reluctantly decided to drop his claims if Kaplan ordered him to proceed publicly.
Saghir and other lawyers for C.D. did not return requests for comment Monday. Neither did lawyers for Spacey, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “American Beauty,” a 1999 film in which he played a frustrated suburban father who lusts after his daughter's best friend.
If C.D. drops his claims, he would not be the first to do so. Two years ago, a man who said Spacey groped him in a Nantucket bar in 2016 dropped his lawsuit.
Meanwhile, investigators in England have not yet said whether they will bring criminal charges against Spacey in connection with accusations made against him there for events alleged to have occurred from 1996 to 2013.