What to Know
A hearing was held Monday regarding the whereabouts of a cellphone seen as key to the sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey.
The former "House of Cards" actor is accused of groping a then-18-year-old bus boy at the Club Car Restaurant in Nantucket in July of 2016.
If convicted, the 59-year-old would face up to 2-1/2 years behind bars.
Monday's developments put the case against actor Kevin Spacey in serious jeopardy, according to legal experts.
The man who accused Spacey of groping him at a Nantucket bar in 2016 asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify Monday after being questioned about text messages the defense claims were deleted.
The man's decision not to testify caused the judge to question the viability of the case against the two-time Oscar winner, whose career collapsed in 2017 amid a string of sexual misconduct allegations.
Spacey's accuser was ordered to take the stand after he said he lost a cellphone sought by the defense, which says the man deleted messages that support Spacey's claims of innocence and provided investigators with manipulated screenshots of conversations.
The accuser, speaking publicly for the first time, said he gave police what he had "available" to him "at the time" and did not alter any of the messages.
"I have no knowledge of any deletions of messages on my phone," the man said.
NBC10 Boston legal analyst Michael Coyne said it couldn't have been a better day for Spacey, explaining that the appearance could decide the case before it gets to trial.
"This case is likely fatally damaged with respect to the information, with respect to the cellphone, and the testimony that came out today that will subsequently be used at trial," Coyne said. "An absolutely horrible day for the government, in virtually every way — the witnesses were bad, the evidence itself was bad."
The judge said the accuser's testimony Monday would be stricken from the record. Spacey's lawyer urged the judge to dismiss the case, calling it "completely compromised."
The judge said he would not immediately dismiss the case, but acknowledged prosecutors would have a tough time bringing it to trial if the man won't testify.
"Once exercised, it may be pretty hard to get around this privilege at trial," Judge Thomas Barrett said. "The matter may well be dismissed for the reasons indicated," he said.
NBC and The Associated Press do not typically name people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they identify themselves publicly. Spacey pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in January.