Kevin Spacey is due in court to answer accusations he groped a young man in a bar on the resort island of Nantucket, in the US state of Massachusetts, in 2016.
The two-time Oscar winner has said he will plead not guilty to felony indecent assault and battery.
The hearing comes more than a year after a former Boston TV anchor accused the former House of Cards star of sexually assaulting her son, then 18, in the crowded bar at the Club Car, where the teen worked as a busboy. Spacey’s lawyer, Alan Jackson, has sought to poke holes in the case, noting that the teenager didn’t immediately report the allegations.
If convicted, Spacey faces as many as five years in prison.
Media trucks lined the street before dawn on Monday and locals on the island, which teems with tourists in the summer but quiets down in the winter, drove by slowly to take photos of reporters standing in line in the cold.
When the doors opened, more than two dozen journalists packed the courtroom hours before Spacey was scheduled to appear in the late morning.
It’s the first criminal case brought against Spacey, 59, since other allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him in 2017.
A judge denied Spacey’s bid to avoid appearing in person on Monday at Nantucket District Court. Spacey had argued his presence would “amplify the negative publicity already generated” by the case.
Television anchor Heather Unruh told reporters in November 2017 that Spacey got her son drunk and then grabbed his genitals during the incident. She said her son fled the restaurant when Spacey went to the bathroom.
After the charge was announced last month, Spacey released a video in the voice of Frank Underwood, his character on Netflix’s House of Cards, in which he said, “I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the thing I didn’t do.” It was unclear whether he was referring to the charge.
Spacey has also faced other allegations.
His first accuser, actor Anthony Rapp, said Spacey climbed on top of him on a bed when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26.
Spacey said he did not remember such an encounter but apologised if the allegations were true.