Prosecutors said Wednesday that they have dropped the sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey.
In a document filed in Nantucket District Court, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said his office has filed a nolle prosequi due to “the unavailability of the complaining witness.”
At a hearing earlier this month, 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 after being questioned about text messages the defense claims were deleted.
The man’s decision not to testify had 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.
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.
After being pressed by Spacey’s lawyer about whether he knew that altering evidence used in a prosecution is a crime, the man invoked his right against self-incrimination, and the judge ordered his testimony stricken from the record.
Spacey’s lawyer argued at the time that the case should be dismissed, saying it had been “completely compromised.”
The judge did not immediately dismiss the case, but acknowledged prosecutors would have a tough time bringing it to trial if the man won’t testify.
The man’s cellphone was a key issue in the case against Spacey, who was accused of groping the then 18-year-old at a popular Nantucket bar and restaurant, where the man worked as a busboy.
The man told police he went over to talk to Spacey after his shift ended at Nantucket’s Club Car bar because he wanted to get a picture with the actor. He 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 accuser told police he tried to move Spacey’s hands, but the groping continued, and he didn’t know what to do because he didn’t want to get in trouble for drinking because he was underage. The man said he fled when Spacey went to the bathroom.
The allegations were first made in 2017 by the man’s mother, former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh.
The accuser’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said they could not find the phone, but were able to retrieve a copy of its contents that had been backed up to a computer.
Unruh told investigators that she deleted items concerning her son’s “frat boy activities” from the phone before giving it to authorities. She acknowledged deleting things that “concerned” her but denied touching text messages or anything else relevant to the case.