NANTUCKET, Mass. - The case accusing Kevin Spacey of groping a man at a Nantucket bar in 2016 has been dropped, according to a court filing.
The man who accused Spacey of groping him asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify after being questioned by the actor's lawyer about text messages the defense claims were deleted.
The man's refusal to testify caused the judge to question the viability of the case against the two-time Oscar winner.
A filing Wednesday afternoon indicated the case was dropped for lack of ability to move forward -- likely due to the lack of the victim's testimony.
"From the very beginning this was not the strongest case," said Boston 25 legal analyst Peter Elikann.
Elikann says the case started to lose momentum after the accuser's family claimed they lost the cell phone that may have contained evidence related to that night on Nantucket in the summer of 2016.
"The prosecution had to admit that they didn’t have the main evidence, the phone, that Kevin Spacey thought there was a lot of exculpatory evidence, meaning evidence that could help get him off," Elikann said.
The move to dismiss was initiated by prosecutors after a July 8 day in court where the alleged accuser chose not to testify.
"This is no surprise whatsoever, when they were in court about a week ago, it came out that the main alleged victim of this case, the person who was going to testify no longer was going to testify. He said he was going to plead the Fifth because he might incriminate himself by talking," Elikann said.
Elikann said once the accuser chose not to take the stand, he was told by the district attorney the case couldn't continue without his testimony.
"When the prosecution realized that the main accuser, backing out and refusing to testify, they just had nothing whatsoever at all, so you can’t knock the prosecution here, they just really had no weapons in their arsenal whatsoever and it was inevitable, nobody is really surprised that this case got dropped," Elikann said.
The man was ordered to testify after he failed to turn over the phone he used that night to the defense and then said it was lost. Spacey's lawyers say the man deleted messages from his phone that would support Spacey's claims of innocence and then provided investigators with manipulated screenshots of conversations from that night.
The accuser, speaking publicly for the first time, said he gave police what he had "available" to him "at the time" and did not manipulate any of the messages.
"I have no knowledge of any deletions of messages on my phone," the man said.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they identify themselves publicly.
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 said his testimony Monday would be stricken from the record.
Spacey's lawyer urged the judge to dismiss the case, calling it "completely compromised." The judge acknowledged that prosecutors would have a tough time bringing the case to trial if the man won't testify.
"Once exercised, it may be pretty hard to get around this privilege at trial. The matter may well be dismissed for the reasons indicated. It's not going to happen today," Judge Thomas Barrett said.
In press release sent Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors confirmed the case was unable to move forward without the witnesses' cooperation.
"A grant of immunity (which would be required without the witness waiving the fifth amendment rights) compromises the witness to a degree which, in a case where the credibility of the witness is paramount, makes the further prosecution untenable," DA Michael O'Keefe said in a release.
The man's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said they cannot find the phone, but were able to retrieve a copy of its contents that had been backed up to a computer.
The accuser's testimony came days after the man voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit that he had filed against the actor about a week earlier.
Spacey, who has denied the groping the teen, pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in January. His lawyers have accused the man of lying in the hopes of winning money in a civil case against Spacey.
"My client and his family have shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances," Garabedian said in an email to Boston 25 News Wednesday.
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.
Boston 25 News reached out Spacey and his defense attorney but have not heard back.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press/CMG