Another name has joined the ranks of those in Hollywood and beyond who have been accused of sexual assault and harassment, and this one may be the biggest yet.
“House of Cards” star and two-time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey has come under fire in the past week for allegations of sexual assault that span decades, including some involving underage boys.
Actor Anthony Rapp made the first accusation against Spacey, claiming that in 1986, Spacey initiated a sexual encounter with Rapp, who was only 14 years old at the time.
Many criticized Spacey’s response, in which he came out as gay and half-heartedly apologized for allegedly assaulting Rapp.
— Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) October 30, 2017
He said he could not recall the alleged incident with Rapp due to being inebriated at the time and because the incident happened over 30 years ago.
Others have since come out against Spacey, including members of the “House of Cards” production team, which prompted Netflix to fire him from the show. Rapp’s story, though, was the catalyst behind others coming out against Spacey.
These allegations came on the heels of others in Hollywood being accused of sexual assault — including executive Harvey Weinstein — and the #MeToo campaign, which has recently gained steam across social media.
An interesting wrinkle in the Spacey narrative, though, is how the story emerged in the first place. BuzzFeed senior film reporter Adam Vary, who penned the story that broke Rapp’s story, is a friend of Rapp’s, which could have made him feel more comfortable sharing his story.
As Vary discloses in his piece, “Rapp and I have been friends since 1999, but he only shared the allegations with me in recent weeks.”
Of course, trust is a big part of any journalist’s career. It’s how they develop sources, receive scoops and, in this case, break a story that sends shockwaves across an entire industry.
The disturbing part of this story, though, is that Spacey surely banked on the trust of his alleged targets. Rapp was a minor when his incident happened; Spacy was 26.
Actor Richard Dreyfuss’ son Harry, another alleged Spacey victim, claimed last week that Spacey groped his crotch and thigh when he was only 18 years old. Although he was a legal adult, Dreyfuss still did not give consent.
Spacey was, at the time, directing Harry’s father in a play at the Old Vic Theatre in London, where Spacey was an artistic director from 2004-15.
Many media outlets have devoted significant coverage to Spacey and his increasing list of victims alleging sexual misconduct. Vox laid out a running timeline of Spacey’s alleged sexual assaults, starting from the early 1980s to the present day.
BuzzFeed’s follow-up to its original story approached Spacey’s transgressions differently. It laid out accusers, providing pictures where relevant and available. It then provided more anecdotes of the allegations corresponding to each accuser.
The elder Dreyfuss tweeted about his son’s decision to divulge his encounter with Spacey:
— Richard Dreyfuss (@RichardDreyfuss) November 5, 2017
It’s messages like these that make victims feel safe to come out and supported once they do. The general public — whether celebrities or average Joes — would benefit from following suit.
That distinction includes the media. Rapp’s case was unique in that he had a friend who worked for a prominent media outlet he felt he could share his story with, which is obviously not the norm.
Many survivors feel alone, whether it’s because they’re afraid of how their families will feel, or because they are so traumatized that it’s too difficult to discuss their experiences.
But, in a world where “fake news” has permeated the everyday vernacular, it’s important that we make people who want to share their stories know that the media can be trusted to accurately tell their stories.