Can Kevin Spacey's Career Be Saved After Stunning Sexual Assault Scandal? Experts Disagree

On Oct. 29, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting him when he was just 14 and Spacey was 26.

Fourteen days later, Spacey's storied, 36-year acting career lies in ruins, his employers and associates having abandoned him one by one as 14 more men came forward with similar allegations. Spacey's agents dumped him, Netflix fired him from House of Cards, he was cut from the upcoming Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special, and, in an unprecedented move, director Ridley Scott announced that he is reshooting his scenes in the already completed Oscar-contending film, All the Money In the World.

As for Kevin Spacey himself, he has not made a public comment since his ill-advised decision to come out as a gay man in response to Rapp's accusations. Just before his representatives tossed him to the curb, they told Variety that he was seeking "evaluation and treatment."

So what happens next?

It depends on who you ask.

By most accounts, the two-time Oscar winner's career is over. The Baltimore Sun was one of the first to issue an obituary, claiming that the "rolling back of the patriarchy and the monstrous belief of some men that they have the right to violate and humiliate others in the most private of ways" combined with the "head-spinning speed" of social media means that powerful abusers like Spacey and Harvey Weinstein have no path forward for redemption.

Meanwhile, Variety declared Spacey's career "dunzo," and, in the L.A. Times, crisis PR expert Elizabeth Toledo issued last rites to his Hollywood future.

"His career as he knows it, his stature in the industry, is over. There's no legal or [public relations] strategy that's going to restore it."
Even Spacey's Baby Driver co-star and fellow Hollywood heavyweight, Bryan Cranston, chimed in, telling the BBC on Friday that Spacey is "a phenomenal actor," but he's "not a very good person."
"His career now I think is over."
However, Mark Borkowski of the Independent believes "the possibility for forgiveness remains." He says that if the worst of the allegations have already been reported and Spacey continues to lie low for six or so months, "he will surface for a heart-to-heart – the right interviewer, the right title."
"Many would like to hear what he has to say. Should a reformed Spacey be deemed credible, it could be as little as two years down the line that the actor could be winning plaudits for a supporting role in an off-Broadway production or Sundance hit."
Borkowski points to the redemption of Mel Gibson after his drunken anti-Semitic rant more than a decade ago, and even the continued tolerance of Roman Polanski in some circles as reasons for Kevin Spacey to hope Hollywood will someday crack open the door for his undeniable talents again.

Kevin Spacey greets fans at 'Baby Driver' European premiere. [Image by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images}

But Forbes contributor Rob Cain thinks Gibson's situation is far different and doesn't represent a beacon of salvation for Spacey. Two of his key points are that Gibson hurled bigoted insults, but he didn't assault anyone, and that Hollywood's tolerance for sexual harassment has forever shifted after the Weinstein scandal. However, his biggest point -- and what may ultimately seal Spacey's fate -- is the difference in criminality between Gibson's and Spacey's actions.

"There's no denying that Mel Gibson committed a crime back in 2006 when he was arrested," Cain writes. "He was caught and convicted for the misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, a crime for which he served three years probation, was fined $1,300, and ordered to attend a year of self-help meetings. Spacey on the other hand, has been accused—though not yet charged—with committing felony sexual assault and pedophilia against multiple victims over a period of several decades. If convicted, Spacey could be facing serious time in prison."

On that note, the Boston Globe reported on Friday that Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe has scheduled a meeting with one of Kevin Spacey's accusers -- the teenage son of former Boston TV news anchor, Heather Unruh, who claims the actor grabbed his genitals at a bar in July, 2016. It is not yet known if charges will be filed.

[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]