When the first wave of sexual misconduct accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein arrived in October 2017, “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp felt “guilt” about not coming forward earlier with his own sexual abuse allegations against Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, a clinical and forensic psychologist testified Thursday.
“It troubled him that he had kept silent about it,” Dr. Lisa Rocchio, who was retained as an expert witness by the law firm representing Rapp, told jurors on the fifth day of Spacey’s trial in federal court in downtown Manhattan.
Rapp alleges that Spacey climbed on top of him at a New York City party in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey denies the allegation, and his lawyers have argued that Rapp “created a story” to get attention and raise his professional profile.
Rocchio testified that Rapp “did suffer emotional distress, assuming this occurred.”
She told jurors that Rapp experienced feelings of “shame, guilt and self-blame” as an adolescent. In his adult years, she said, Rapp showed “indicators of symptoms of depression and anxiety” as well as post-traumatic stress.
Rapp testified on Wednesday that the alleged encounter with Spacey was “the most traumatic single event of my life” and caused “lingering impacts.”
Rocchio testified that she diagnosed Rapp with “delayed onset” post-traumatic stress disorder in 2017. By that time, she told jurors, it had become “harder and harder and harder” for Rapp to avoid Spacey’s likeness in popular culture and the media.
Rapp was also plagued by feelings of guilt in October 2017 after The New York Times and The New Yorker published investigations into Weinstein’s pattern of alleged sexual harassment and assault.
Weinstein is currently serving more than two decades in prison for a New York rape conviction, and he will soon go on trial in Los Angeles on separate sex crime charges. In late August, the New York State Court of Appeals allowed Weinstein to appeal his conviction of third-degree rape and one count of first-degree criminal sexual act.
Weinstein has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
Rocchio recalled that Rapp told her he was having trouble remembering his lines of dialogue at some point in 2019. But overall, she testified, acting was an important outlet for Rapp.
“One of the ways he tried to avoid thinking about things was to throw himself into his work,” Rocchio testified.
Spacey, 63, could be seen shaking his head at one point during Rocchio’s testimony. Rapp, 50, appeared solemn and stared straight ahead.
In a cross-examination, Chase A. Scolnick — one of Spacey’s attorneys — raised the idea that it was possible for a person to essentially fabricate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Scolnick asked Rocchio if a person could look up how to fake symptoms of PTSD on the internet, and she said yes. He asked her if people might falsify or exaggerate symptoms of PTSD for external gain, such as monetary damages in a civil case, and she said yes.
Rapp is seeking $40 million in damages.
Rocchio testified that Rapp became preoccupied with whether other people were sexually attracted to him following his alleged encounter with Spacey. Scolnick suggested those thoughts might be a sign of “narcissism,” but Rocchio replied that was not the case.
Rocchio listed other events in Rapp’s life that could have been potential sources of trauma, including an occasion when Rapp was 17 and a 40-year-old actor allegedly initiated an “unprovoked sexual encounter” that Rapp described as “shocking and inappropriate.”
She also mentioned an instance when an adult Rapp fell asleep during a massage and woke up to the sight of the masseuse “fondling his penis.”
But that alleged encounter and other events from Rapp’s past did not result in “ongoing symptoms of PTSD,” Rocchio testified.
Scolnick, noting that people experiencing PTSD tend to avoid the source of their trauma, pointed out during his cross-examination of Rocchio that Rapp saw the Spacey movies “The Usual Suspects,” “Se7en,” “L.A. Confidential” and “American Beauty.”
“He made a choice to see” films and plays featuring Spacey, Scolnick said.
“He would steel himself before going,” Rocchio responded. “He would experience some tension and nausea before going.”
In a light-hearted moment, Scolnick alluded to the 1994 comedy “The Ref” and said: “It wasn’t a great movie.” He then turned to Spacey and said: “No offense.” Spacey could be seen laughing in response to the remark.
The day’s proceedings got off to an unusual start when Judge Lewis A. Kaplan announced to the jury that Jennifer Keller, one of Spacey’s attorneys, testified positive for Covid on Thursday morning. He explained that she was symptomatic and absent from court.
Kaplan said his first concern after Keller tested positive was to make sure the jury of six men and six women was safe, and that the courthouse follow pandemic-era protocols. The jurors confirmed they have all been fully vaccinated.
Keller was the lawyer who grilled Rapp during a lengthy and aggressive cross-examination on Tuesday.