A man who accused the actor Kevin Spacey of sexual assault has died before the case could go to trial.
The alleged victim, who remained anonymous and was listed as John Doe in his lawsuit, came forward last year to say Spacey groped him at a house in Malibu, California, in October 2016.
The man, a massage therapist, sued the Oscar-winner for sexual battery, gender violence, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Spacey denied the allegations.
It has now emerged the accuser has died, leaving the future of the lawsuit in doubt. News of his death was revealed in a filing by Spacey’s lawyers at a court in California.
The only detail about the man’s death was that it was “recent”.
The man’s lawyer, Genie Harrison, said Spacey’s lawyers’ filing announcing the death was “undignified, insensitive and inappropriate” and accused them of legal manoeuvring to get the case dismissed.
The man’s estate now has 90 days to get substituted into the lawsuit to continue it.
In a statement to the PA news agency, Ms Harrison said: “Filing the notice yesterday was unnecessary and contemptible. I’m not surprised, however, that Spacey prematurely filed the notice in an attempt to gain the advantage of a ticking clock.
“Mr Doe’s family must now open his estate at the same time as planning a funeral and processing their grief.”
The statement described the accuser as a “dignified, kind, middle-aged man” who was left “traumatised” by the alleged attack. Ms Harrison said other alleged victims of Spacey had come forward.
She added: “His fight for justice is still very much alive.” The anonymous accuser, who said he decided not to reveal his identity for fear of “harassment and personal embarrassment,” filed a lawsuit against Spacey, 60, in September last year.
He alleged that during a massage in October 2016, Spacey forced him to touch his genitals and before asking if he could perform oral sex on him.
The case, which was filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, has since been moved to a federal court. A pre-trial conference had been scheduled for May next year.
Spacey, a two-time Academy Award-winner, was a major Hollywood star before his career was engulfed by allegations of sexual impropriety.
He was one of the first high-profile public figures to be accused after Harvey Weinstein’s downfall in October 2017.
Earlier this year, prosecutors dropped a sexual assault case against him in the state of Massachusetts after the alleged victim stopped cooperating.
Spacey, who was artistic director at London’s The Old Vic theatre between 2004 and 2015, faces six allegations of sexual assault in the UK between 1996 and 2013.