The first man to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual misconduct went public on Oct. 29: actor Anthony Rapp said Spacey made sexual advances when he was 14 and Spacey was 26.
A little more than a week later, following a series of other claims of groping and sexual harassment made by various men, the actor was cut out of a major film and replaced with Christopher Plummer; banished from "House of Cards," for which Spacey had previously scored five Emmy nominations; and removed from a planned Gore Vidal biopic in which he was expected to star for Netflix.
It's a staggering turnaround for Spacey, 58, a two-time Oscar winner and Tony winner born in South Orange.
Now, after Spacey's bungled attempt at an apology to Rapp, his denial of other allegations, and police activity surrounding one of the groping claims that is alleged to have happened just last year, some doubt he will ever be able to work again.
"I think that when you're talking about a 14-year-old boy and a 26-year-old man, most people have such an aversion to hearing that," says Warren-based crisis manager Karen Kessler. "He really dug his own grave on this one."
It's a question that has accompanied many recent high-profile reports of sexual misconduct and assault: Once accused, are these men's careers over?
The Spacey allegations arrived in the wake of the ever-expanding Harvey Weinstein scandal. Charges of sexual assault and harassment have since been lodged against directors James Toback and Brett Ratner, former MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin, actors Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, George Takei and Ed Westwick, and GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore.
"Our phones have been nonstop in these past two weeks." says Kessler. "It is everywhere. More and more companies are willing to say, 'This doesn't work here.'"
Comedian Louis C.K. is among the latest group of celebrities to face such allegations. On Nov. 9, the New York Times reported that five women, including writers and comedians, had accused him of sexual misconduct, with most alleging the comedian had masturbated in front of them. The next day, he admitted that all of the stories were true.
Louis C.K. had already been pulled from the lineup of an HBO comedy show and had canceled the premiere for his movie "I Love You, Daddy," which was ultimately shelved. On Friday, Netflix said it would not produce his next comedy special.
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In Spacey's case, he is being erased from a movie: Sony Pictures' move to strip Spacey from the role of J. Paul Getty in the upcoming Ridley Scott film "All the Money in the World" -- and re-shoot his scenes with Christopher Plummer -- is unprecedented. (The film is due out on Dec. 22.)
"I've never seen anything like this before that I can think of," says Danny Deraney, a Hollywood publicist with experience in crisis communications. "I think Sony wants to save face and I don't blame them."
Spacey, much like Harvey Weinstein, who released a statement that quoted Jay Z lyrics after the first reports of his sexual misconduct emerged, badly bungled his response.
After BuzzFeed published its interview with Rapp, Spacey quickly came out as gay, which many called an obvious (and harmful) attempt to deflect from the allegations.
He said he didn't remember the encounter with Rapp, but apologized, adding that if it did happen, he would consider his actions a demonstration of "deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."
"This is one of the worst statements that I have ever seen," Deraney says.
From there, the allegations multiplied. Actor Harry Dreyfuss, son of actor Richard Dreyfuss, wrote in an essay for BuzzFeed that Spacey groped the then-18-year-old's crotch in 2008 as the two sat on a couch in the same room as his father. (Not long after, writer Jessica Teich claimed that Richard Dreyfuss had sexually harassed her and exposed himself in front of her in the '80s.) Former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh said he recently filed a police report after Spacey allegedly groped her 18-year-old son at a bar in Nantucket last year.
In one instance, Spacey is accused of attempted rape. An unnamed artist told New York Magazine's Vulture that in the 1980s he had a sexual relationship with Spacey when he was 14, which ended with the alleged assault. On Friday, Andy Holtzman became the latest man to come forward, telling USA Today that Spacey had assaulted him in 1981, when he was working at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater.
Some might defend Spacey by saying he has not been convicted of a crime. But to dismiss allegations as somehow not serious enough to merit the consequences Spacey has had to face is misguided, says Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Lawrenceville. Many point to Spacey's alleged actions as symptoms of the same diseased culture, where powerful men use sex to control others.
"The entire spectrum of sexual violence -- all the victims -- suffer consequences," Teffenhart says, whether that means psychological stress and its physical effects or a fear of returning to work.
"What we're starting to see is that there's a cost associated with people who choose to harm others -- that we're finally holding them accountable," she says, pointing to the #MeToo Twitter movement in which many women and men came forward to share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment.
Teffenhart is hopeful that the spotlight can help change the state's two-year statute of limitations on civil sexual assault cases and help push a bill that would require schools to conduct background checks for sexual misconduct before hiring teachers.
On Nov. 2, BuzzFeed reported that Spacey's publicist and agency had dropped the actor. Later, Entertainment Weekly reported that Spacey had been cut from a pre-taped Dec. 3 CBS special celebrating the 50th anniversary of "The Carol Burnett Show," though it's not clear what that means for musical numbers featuring Spacey, Bernadette Peters and Kristin Chenoweth.
This kind of dilemma cuts to the heart of why some find it so hard to digest the allegations against Spacey, or the backlash.
"I thought Bill Cosby was the funniest man on the planet," Deraney says. "Now I can't watch the Fat Albert Halloween special. There's a sadness to it because you've invested a lot of time enjoying that person's work and now it just doesn't feel the same."
Could the actor, known for his award-winning turns in "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty," ever revive his career?
"I don't know if Spacey will work again," Deraney says. "I can't imagine it," he says, at least not at the level he enjoyed before the allegations. He points to Mel Gibson's successful comeback, but says there is a difference: Gibson's career was on the decline in 2006 when he made anti-Semitic comments while being arrested on a DUI charge. He wasn't trying to work again after being accused of molesting or groping 14-year-old boys.
Yet Kessler believes Gibson's example only supports a road to recovery for Spacey, saying such career revivals are (usually) more feasible in Hollywood than in business or politics.
"It's not going to be tomorrow that he's going to star on Broadway," she says. "(But) the next thing you know, he'll be back."
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual harassment or assault and needs support, the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault has a confidential, toll free 24-hour hotline. Call 800-601-7200 or visit njcasa.org/find-help....Read more