The judge in Kevin Spacey's sexual assault case has ruled that Spacey's accuser must turn his cellphone over to a defense expert to see if any potentially exculpatory evidence can be recovered.
The ruling comes just after Spacey made a rare appearance in court on Monday. During the appearance, his attorney demanded access to the cellphone of the young man who has accused the actor of groping him at a bar on the resort island of Nantucket in 2016.
The 59-year-old actor, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery, faces up to 2-1/2 years behind bars if convicted.
Friday's ruling says the accuser's phone must be delivered to Middleboro State Police barracks by June 21. The judge also summonsed the accuser, his mother and his lawyer to appear in Nantucket District Court on that same date.
Mitchell Garabedian, the accuser's lawyer, said Friday that he has no comment on the ruling based on the pending criminal matter.
Spacey's attorneys have recently stepped up their attacks on the credibility of the man who brought the allegations. In court documents filed last week, they accused the man of deleting text messages that support Spacey's claims of innocence.
It's the only criminal case that has been brought against the two-time Oscar winner since his career fell apart amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations in 2017.
The case came to light that year when former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh said Spacey got her son drunk and sexually assaulted him at the Club Car, a popular restaurant and bar on the island off Cape Cod.
Unruh's son told police he wanted to get a picture with Spacey and went over to talk to him after his shift ended at the Club Car, where he worked as a busboy. The man said Spacey bought him several drinks and tried to persuade him to come home with him before unzipping the man's pants and groping him for about three minutes.
The teenage accuser told police that he tried to move Spacey's hands, but that the groping continued, and he didn't know what to do because he didn't want to get in trouble for drinking. The man said he fled when Spacey went to the bathroom.
Spacey's lawyers have called the allegations "patently false" and accused the man of lying in the hopes of making money in a civil case against Spacey. They argued the two engaged in nothing more than "consensual flirtation" and questioned why, according to the man's story, he did not object or try to move away if he was being assaulted.
Prosecutors say they have already agreed to provide the defense a copy of the information they downloaded from the accuser's phone, but Spacey's attorneys say that's not enough. They want the phone itself so they can do their own analysis and try to recover messages they claim were deleted.
Alan Jackson, Spacey's lawyer, said Monday that Unruh told authorities she removed anything concerning her son's "frat boy activities" from his phone before handing it over in 2017. He said it appears the accuser deleted certain messages between him and his then-girlfriend from his phone before sending screen shots of conversations to an officer investigating the case.
"There's clearly information on that phone that (the accuser) and Heather Unruh do not want us to know," Jackson said.