US actor Kevin Spacey found not guilty of UK sex offences

LONDON (AFP): A jury in the UK on Wednesday found Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey not guilty of nine sex offences against four men alleged to have occurred between 2001 and 2013.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court in south London reached majority decisions on the nine counts, which included sexual assault, after more than 12 hours of deliberations.

The jury began considering their verdicts on Monday, following a weeks-long trial which saw British rock star Elton John give evidence as a witness for Spacey.

The two-time Oscar winner, who turned 64 on Wednesday, denied seven counts of sexual assault, one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

The prosecution claimed he was a “sexual bully” who revelled in making others feel uncomfortable, including by aggressively grabbing men’s crotches.

Spacey called the claims “madness” and a “stab in the back”.

The court had heard from the four alleged victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

One of them, a former aspiring actor, said he woke up to find Spacey performing a sex act on him, suggesting the actor “drugged” him.

Spacey was accused of grabbing a victim’s crotch “so hard” they nearly came off the road while driving to a fundraising event.

The verdicts in London follow a US court last year dismissing separate sexual allegations in a civil case brought there.

A judge ruled the accusation were not proven after a jury was unconvinced by the evidence presented.