The sex offense allegations against Kevin Spacey took another turn when one of the accusers unexpectedly died. It's not uncommon for alleged victims to pass away as their cases wind their way through court, and there are legal mechanisms in place that allow their case to go on. However, civil allegations of sex crimes, like this one, are largely doomed without the testimony of the alleged victim, who is often the only witness to the offense other than the defendant.
Kevin Spacey's Accuser Dies
The actor Kevin Spacey has recently been accused by several men of sexual offenses, including other states' equivalent of Maine's sexual assault law. Some of those have been criminal cases filed by prosecutors and carrying the potential for jail time. Others have been civil cases, brought by the alleged victims who are demanding money.
One of those accusers was a middle-aged man and a massage therapist in Malibu. He claimed that back in October 2016, Spacey came to him for a massage. During the massage, he says Spacey forced him to touch his genitals and then asked for oral sex.
The massage therapist filed a civil lawsuit against Spacey, demanding compensation for the emotional distress caused by the sexual assault and battery.
However, he recently died, well before his case could progress too far – the pre-trial conference had been scheduled for next May.
The Legal System Can Usually Handle the Death of a Plaintiff
When the plaintiff in a lawsuit dies, the case does not just disappear. Instead, the plaintiff's estate gets put in the person's shoes at the head of the lawsuit. It's not like this sort of thing is unheard of – it's exactly what happens whenever a wrongful death lawsuit is filed.
Criminal cases are even easier because the alleged victim is not the one pursuing the case. Instead, it's the prosecutor pursuing the charges. And again, the death of the alleged victim in a criminal case is not something the legal system can't handle – by definition, all victims in murder cases have passed away.
Sex Offenses are Different Because They Rely on the Victim's Testimony
Allegations of a sex offense – both civil and criminal – are different because so much of the evidence comes in the form of testimony by the alleged victim. There is rarely any physical evidence of the alleged offense or crime, and hardly any other witnesses other than the alleged victim and perpetrator. The person accused of committing the offense, of course, is going to deny it, so the plaintiff or prosecutor ends up relying extremely heavily – in some cases, exclusively – on the conflicting testimony of the person who says they were the victim.
Where that person has died before taking the witness stand, much of the evidence dies with him or her.
WTB Law: Defending Against Sex Crime Allegations in Maine
The criminal defense lawyers at WTB Law defend people who have been accused of a sex crime in Portland, Saco, Biddeford, and the rest of southern Maine. Contact us online or call our law office at (207) 571-8146.