(NEW YORK) — The young man who has accused Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting him three years ago has withdrawn a civil lawsuit against the actor.
The lawsuit, filed last week, stemmed from allegations that Spacey, whose birth name is Kevin Fowler, sexually assaulted the young man in a Nantucket bar in the summer of 2016.
The accuser’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedien, cited the criminal case against Spacey in declining to comment on the civil suit.
The defense and the accuser, whom ABC News has not named because he says he was sexually assaulted, have been fighting over evidence, including the cell phone the accuser used the night of the alleged assault.
Defense attorneys questioned why the accuser erased certain text messages from the phone before turning it over to police. The defense hired a forensic expert to restore the texts, which Spacey believes are exculpatory.
Before dismissing the civil lawsuit, the accuser said Spacey caused him extreme emotional distress such that he was unable to fully recall the details of the summertime encounter with the “House of Cards” star.
Last week, legal experts told ABC News that it’s not unprecedented to file a civil lawsuit in the middle of an ongoing criminal case.
“It muddies the waters of the criminal case,” said prominent Florida defense attorney Mark O’Mara, who successfully defended George Zimmerman against charges including second-degree murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
“If [the alleged victim] has a civil case pending, then that’s going to come up on cross-examination when he testifies at trial,” O’Mara said.
“The reason you’d love my [client] to get convicted is because you’re suing him for a ka-billion dollars, isn’t that right? Isn’t that why we’re really here?” the Florida lawyer noted, channeling a defense attorney’s cross-examination of such a witness.
Other defense attorneys who have represented high-profile clients and spoke with ABC News about the Spacey case said the civil lawsuit could be seen as another blow to the prosecution’s case.
“It generally is not good for the prosecution because it shows a financial motive, and financial bias is something defense lawyers are going to use in their cross-examination,” said Tom Mesereau, a high-profile Los Angeles attorney who has represented celebrities including Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby and Robert Blake in criminal cases. “They will try to show the witness is biased because they have a stake in the outcome of the criminal case.”
Spacey has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge, the first the actor has faced despite years of accusations.
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.