Haberman-Hardy-Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

In the wave of #metoo revelations, comes the news that actor Anthony Rapp (Rent, Star Trek: Discovery) was allegedly assaulted by actor Kevin Spacey when they were both performing on Broadway. The bigger problem was Rapp’s age at the time: 14.

Once the allegations surfaced, Kevin Spacey hastily issued a half-hearted apology, noting, “I honestly do not remember the encounter.”

“Encounter”? Seriously?

You were an adult, and you assaulted a 14-year-old boy. That is not an “encounter;” it’s an assault. And frankly, it’s the kind of assault that every homophobic preacher and politician will be salivating over.

Then Spacey had the audacity to make the “bold” move of coming out.

Again, “bold”?

After decades of rumors and speculation, for him to come out as a result of sexual assault charges that, if true, would be pedophilia, is not bold. It’s bullshit.

I am glad for anyone who comes out. But I am not glad when it happens only as a result of being exposed as an alleged sexual predator. I feel pretty sure Kevin Spacey won’t be appearing on Broadway again anytime soon, but his acting in this case is award-worthy.

Spacey’s claim to somehow “not remember” is a complete cop-out. The days when a same-sex encounter could be chalked-up to alcohol are over. And there has never been a time when assaulting a minor and using “I was drunk” as an excuse was acceptable.

There is no excuse for this kind of behavior, and coming out is not going to serve as a smokescreen — no matter how convincingly you deliver the lines.

The idea that Hollywood is full of “casting couch” stories is nothing new. The accusations against Harvey Weinstein did not surprise anyone in the movie business. That speaks volumes as to the complicit atmosphere that enabled a predator to continue his sexual assaults with impunity.

The Kevin Spacey incident shows how showbiz fame can immunize a person from a lot of things. But as with Weinstein, eventually the truth comes out when someone has the courage to buck the system and say something.

Anthony Rapp took a big chance by speaking out. Though Spacey is not a high-powered producer, he is a top-tier actor, and speaking out might have come at a significant cost to Rapp.

Rapp, in an interview with BuzzFeed, said he decided to come forward after several women spoke against Weinstein. He characterized his accusations as, “not to simply air a grievance, but to try to shine another light on the decades of behavior that have been allowed to continue because of many people, including myself, being silent. … I’m feeling really awake to the moment that we’re living in, and I’m hopeful that this can make a difference.”

His statement is indeed making a difference. It is shining a light on the problem that exists both for women and men when faced with sexual advances from people more powerful than themselves. As long as individuals feel that reporting a violation is riskier than just keeping it a secret, they will remain silent.

In the age of Trump, when sexual assault is excused as “locker room talk” and racist tirades are allowed to be broadcast with impunity, speaking out is a defiant act. It comes from the courage that speaking out is the only defense of such an outrage. Mr. Spacey needs to remember that, so I will say it again.

Speaking out against sexual abuse is courageous. Coming out to make an excuse for sexual abuse is cowardly.