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Kevin Spacey takes the stand to refute U.K. sex assault allegations

London — Actor Kevin Spacey took the stand Thursday in his sexual assault trial in London, denying allegations made by four accusers and telling the jury that he considered his actions with one of the men "romantic." The Hollywood star was in the witness box for the first time during the trial, at which he's facing a total of 12 charges including sexual assault, indecent assault and one more serious charge of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.
Spacey has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, which stem from allegations made by four men over incidents that occurred in the U.K. over a two decade period.
Giving evidence at London's Southwark Crown Court, the Academy award winner said he had a consensual relationship with one of his accusers that was "somewhat intimate." Spacey said he had been flirtatious with the man and that a relationship "developed over time."
"We enjoyed each other's company," the actor told the court, adding that he "would have taken the lead."
Spacey said he had touched the man in "intimate" areas and that while there was consensual sexual activity between them, he denied committing any forceful act.
"It did not happen in a violent, aggressive, painful way… it was gentle and, in my mind, romantic," Spacey said. "It was not what he [the accuser] has described."  
Earlier in the trial, the man, who'd been employed by Spacey as a driver in the early 2000s, described the actor as a "slippery, snaky, difficult person" who assaulted him multiple times, including once as he drove Spacey to a party hosted by Elton John in 2005.
Reacting to the allegations that he groped the driver while on the way to an event hosted by the British singer, Spacey refuted the claim and said he had only attended the recurring event in question once, in 2001, not 2005.
Spacey showed work schedules and documents that to support his claim that he was filming outside the U.K., including in Australia, during the timeframe of the alleged incident.
The 63-year-old said he and the accuser in question had not gone further than sexual touching, as "he didn't want to go further than we were going, and I respected that."
The actor said he felt "crushed" when he heard the alleged victim's allegations as he didn't expect the man to "stab me in the back."
Prosecutors finished presenting their evidence against Spacey Wednesday. The U.K. jury heard testimony from all four of the men who have accused Spacey of the charges in this case.
One accuser called Spacey a "vile sexual predator" early in the trial, alleging that the actor had drugged him and performed oral sex on him while he was passed out in Spacey's apartment.
The jury was played a recording of a police interview with the accuser in which the alleged victim said he had been an aspiring actor and initially made contact with Spacey by writing to him and asking for a mentorship in 2008.
The man was heard in the audio recording saying to police that he was "dumbstruck, starstruck" when Spacey invited him over for a beer.
The accuser said Spacey had made him "feel weirdly special," and that he'd accepted both the invitation for a drink and a subsequent invite to go back to the actor's apartment, "because it's Kevin Spacey."
The court heard that the two ate pizza and smoked cannabis together, and that the accuser then fell asleep and woke up to find Spacey performing oral sex on him.
The man said he told Spacey, "no," before adding: "Then he stopped and asked me to leave straight away. He said I shouldn't talk to anyone about what had happened."
Spacey denied that allegation on Thursday and said when he first heard about the claims from police in 2019, he didn't recall ever meeting the man in question.
"My initial thought was, 'This is somebody who is just shaking me down,' and I didn't recognize the picture [of the accuser]," he said.
Spacey said when he heard the complainant's initial testimony to police and his reference to waiting at a bus stop after the alleged incident, it jogged his memory. He said he did then recall a man who had "hurriedly" left after having an encounter in his apartment.
"It felt very odd, like maybe he was making an excuse, and it concerned me, and my memory is that I called this person to see if they were okay," Spacey told the court. "That was the memory that I have."
The actor said he believed he did perform consensual oral sex on the man.
After the incident, Spacey said he went to the bathroom and when he came out, that was "when I felt something had changed in the room."
The trial began on June 28 and was expected to take a total of about four weeks.