Hmmm: Prosecutors fold in Spacey trial after accuser takes the Fifth

Hmmm: Prosecutors fold in Spacey trial after accuser takes the Fifth

Will Massachusetts prosecutors recast the role with Christopher Plummer? Kevin Spacey walked out of court a free man after a judge dismissed a sexual assault charge as the prosecution case fell apart. Earlier, the accuser had abruptly taken the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions on cross-examination, and his mother had admitted to tampering with evidence before providing it to police:

Mr. Spacey, 59, had been accused of fondling an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket restaurant three years ago. But in recent weeks, there had been signs that the case was in jeopardy. Last month, the accuser’s lawyer said that a smartphone being sought as evidence had disappeared, and this month, the accuser dropped a lawsuit against Mr. Spacey only six days after having filed it.

Problems for the prosecution came to a head last week when Mr. Spacey’s accuser invoked the Fifth Amendment after being warned that he could be charged with a felony if he had deleted phone evidence. When the young man refused to continue his testimony, a Nantucket District Court judge said the prosecution might no longer be viable.

The dramatic moment could have come right out of Hollywood … at least in a B-movie script or a mediocre Law & Order episode. The accuser had texted his girlfriend and others contemporaneously to the alleged attack, and police had the smartphone. Spacey’s attorneys alleged that the phone record had been edited, and the accuser’s mother admitted to deleting some videos off the phone. When the phone itself went missing, well …

A Nantucket District Court judge granted the defense’s request to obtain the accuser’s physical smartphone so it could be examined. But shortly before the phone was supposed to be produced, the accuser’s lawyer said it was missing.

At the hearing about the missing phone last week, the young man and his parents denied that they had manipulated screenshots of text messages from the night of the incident before handing them over to police. But when Mr. Jackson told the accuser that he could be charged with a felony if he had deleted evidence, the young man invoked the Fifth Amendment.

So does that mean Spacey has been exonerated? Not exactly, CBS News legal analyst Rikki Kleiman says:

“If you have a complaining witness who is allegedly a sexual assault victim, who is claiming the Fifth Amendment and is therefore is not going to testify, what have you got? You’ve got nothing,” Klieman said.

“The fact that the prosecution… has decided not to go forward in no way says that Kevin Spacey… has been exonerated,” Klieman added. “The prosecution was simply faced with a case that by virtue of the alleged victim… taking the Fifth Amendment, they didn’t have a witness to say what happened.”

If this was the only allegation Spacey faced, then the contradictory statements and potential manipulation of evidence would lead to the conclusion that a dismissal had exonerated Spacey. That isn’t the only allegation against Spacey, though; currently, police in both Los Angeles and in London are investigating allegations of sexual assault. In London alone, six accusers have come forward from Spacey’s time as artistic director of the Old Vic theater.

So when will the next shoe drop? According to the report above from NBC’s Today show, prosecutors in LA are expected to make an announcement “soon” on whether they plan to indict Spacey. If they do, they’d better first make sure that they prepare their witnesses and their evidence a little better than prosecutors did in Nantucket.

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