- U.S. actor cleared of nine charges after four-week trial
- Spacey breaks down in tears as jury returns not guilty verdict
- 'I am humbled by the outcome', he says outside court
- Verdict comes on actor's 64th birthday
LONDON, July 26 (Reuters) - A tearful Kevin Spacey said he was "humbled" after a jury in a London court found him not guilty on Wednesday of carrying out multiple sex assaults on four men.
After 12 hours and 26 minutes of deliberation, the jury acquitted the Oscar-winning U.S. actor by a majority on nine charges which he was accused of committing between 2004 and 2013 at a time when he was working at London's Old Vic theatre.
Spacey, who was also celebrating his 64th birthday on Wednesday, began to cry and mouthed "thank you" to the nine men and three women jurors, before wiping away tears with a tissue.
The Hollywood star spoke with five of the jurors in the lobby of Southwark Crown Court, before emerging from the building to address a phalanx of journalists and photographers.
"I imagine that many of you can understand that there's a lot for me to process after what has just happened today," he said. "I am humbled by the outcome today."
He also said he was "enormously grateful to the jury for having taken the time to examine all of the evidence and all of the facts carefully before they reached their decision".
Spacey was swarmed by cameras as he then walked to a waiting taxi, as some members of the public clapped and wished him happy birthday and one woman shouted: "We love you, Kevin."
During the four-week trial, prosecutors described the actor as a "sexual bully" who had aggressively groped three of the men and performed oral sex on the fourth while he had passed out in Spacey's London apartment.
Spacey, tried under his full name Kevin Spacey Fowler, said in evidence that the case against him was weak, and that the incidents, if they had occurred at all, were consensual. He said he was promiscuous, a "big flirt" who had "casual, indiscriminate sexual encounters".
One of complainants alleged Spacey painfully grabbed his crotch like "a cobra" in the mid-2000s, an allegation Spacey described as "absolute bollocks", using a British slang term for testicles and for something which is nonsense.
While he said he might have made a clumsy pass at one of the men, he said he had never assaulted anyone and suggested that the accusers had come forward to make money.
Spacey told the court three of the four complainants had brought civil lawsuits against him and he had tasked private investigators to look into at least three of the four men.
Spacey, who won Oscars for best actor in "American Beauty" (1999) and best supporting actor in "The Usual Suspects" (1995), said his "world exploded" when he was first accused of sexual assault in 2017 by actor Anthony Rapp.
After Buzzfeed published an article on Rapp's allegations, Spacey said "there was a rush to judgment", adding: "Before the first question was asked or answered, I lost my job, I lost my reputation, I lost everything, in a matter of days."
He was dropped from the TV drama "House of Cards" and removed from the movie "All the Money in the World" after the accusations came to light.
Rapp, who accused Spacey of making an unwanted sexual advance in 1986 when he was 14, brought a civil lawsuit against the actor in the U.S. but lost the case last year.
Spacey became one of several prominent names in entertainment to face allegations of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement.
The Old Vic launched an investigation and said in 2017 it had received 20 separate allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
Unsurprisingly for the trial of a Hollywood star, the London jurors heard several references to Spacey's fellow actors and celebrities, including Val Kilmer and Judi Dench, who the court heard had enjoyed playing table tennis with Spacey.
The court also heard evidence from singer Elton John and his husband David Furnish, who gave evidence by videolink from Monaco as part of Spacey's defence.
Spacey's lawyer Patrick Gibbs said it was not a crime to like sex or have casual sex even if you were a famous person and that it was "not a crime to have sex with someone of the same sex, because it's 2023 not 1823".
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