Kevin Spacey could be jailed for up to three years in state prison if charged over Anthony Rapp's allegations of sexual assault, a child sexual abuse expert says.
But it's not that simple.
On Sunday, Kevin Spacey was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old actor, Rapp, in an incident that allegedly happened 31 years ago. Ever since then, the two-time Oscar-winning actor has faced backlash from Hollywood and social media, had an Emmy award revoked, and Netflix's hit political drama House of Cards canceled amid the sexual assault allegations.
In the alleged 1986 incident that reportedly took place at a party hosted by Spacey, Rapp, who was invited to the party, claimed in his interview with BuzzFeed that he was watching TV alone when "drunk" Spacey walked into his bedroom, picked him up "like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold," climbed on top of him, and tried to "seduce" the then-14-year-old Broadway actor.
The allegations sparked a worldwide outrage, with experts speculating whether Spacey could be charged and jailed over the sexual assault allegations. Although Rapp himself claims he was allegedly told by a lawyer that he had "no case" to prosecute the Hollywood legend, could Spacey actually be jailed over the allegations?
Dr. Jef McAllister, partner at a law firm specializing in representing victims of child sexual abuse in the United States and the United Kingdom, told U.K.'s tabloid Metro that on the basis of Rapp's allegations, Spacey could be sentenced for up to three years in state prison.
If the sexual assault allegations are true, Spacey could be guilty of violating the current version of California Penal Code section 288(c), Lascivious Acts with a Child of Age 14 or 15, said Dr. McAllister, partner at AO Advocates.
"He made physical contact with a child 14 or 15 years of age, and that contact was done for sexual arousal or gratification," the child sexual abuse expert said, adding that the claim that Spacey and Rapp "were (presumably) clothed doesn't matter."
Where normally such a crime carries a sentence of up to one year in county prison, Spacey, who was 26 at the time, could face a three-year sentence in state prison because he was over 10 years older than Rapp during the alleged incident.
However, Dr. McAllister explained that "the chances of both criminal and civil prosecution against Spacey are low," and the current law was not in force at the time of the alleged sexual assault incident over three decades ago.
The expert explained that there was an "offense for lewd contact for purposes of sexual gratification with someone under 14, but not for over 14," in the 1986 version of California criminal law.
"The obvious criminal offenses in 1986 involving contact with someone Rapp's age require at least oral sex or fondling," Dr. McAllister said, adding that he only has "summaries of the statutes in 1986, however."
In his allegations, Rapp made no mention of "fondling genitalia" or "penetration" on the part of Spacey during the alleged incident, which means the chances of a criminal or civil prosecution against the House of Cards star are "low," the child sexual abuse expert insisted.
Also, Spacey could not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations, thinks Dr. McAllister.
"In California, there is generally a 10 year SOL on child molestation; but an odd anomaly permits the crime to be charged within one year of when the victim first reports it to the police, which essentially neuters the SOL," said the expert.
Rapp apparently reported the alleged incident in 2001 but never used Spacey's name in his allegations. The expert also argued that "it's possible" that Rapp could still bring civil charges against Spacey, as the statute of limitations in California "permits civil charges to be filed within three years of discovering the psychological damage the abuse has done to you."
However, Rapp opened up about the alleged sexual assault incident back in 2001 when speaking to the Advocate, which means the actor was already troubled by the alleged 1986 events in the early 2000s.
"That might start the 'discovery' clock ticking then, in which case he would be out of time now," Dr. McAllister concluded.
Spacey addressed Rapp's allegations almost immediately, making a statement on Twitter and coming out as gay. The two-time Oscar-winning actor offered Rapp his "sincerest apology" if he had behaved in the way Rapp alleged and said he felt "sorry for the feelings [Rapp] describes having carried with him all these years."Spacey also used the opportunity to come out as a gay man, saying that he has "loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I now choose to live life as a gay man."
[Featured Image by Rena Schild/Shutterstock]