LONDON — Elton John briefly testified Monday for the defense at Kevin Spacey ‘s sexual assault trial as the actor’s lawyer attempted to discredit a man who claimed the Oscar winner aggressively grabbed his crotch while driving to the singer’s summer ball.
John appeared in the London court by video link from Monaco after his husband, David Furnish, testified that Spacey did not attend the annual party at their Windsor home the year the accuser said he was attacked.
One of the alleged victims said he was driving Spacey to the White Tie & Tiara Ball in 2004 or 2005 when the actor grabbed him so forcefully he almost ran off the road.
Furnish supported Spacey’s own testimony that he only attended the event in 2001. Furnish said he had reviewed photographs taken at the party from 2001 to 2005 and Spacey only appeared in images that one year. He said all guests were photographed each year.
John said the actor attended the party in the early 2000s and arrived after flying in on a private jet.
Furnish said Spacey’s appearance was a surprise and he remembered it because it was a big deal.
“He was an Oscar-winning actor and there was a lot of buzz and excitement that he was at the ball,” Furnish said.
John said he only remembered Spacey coming once to the gala and said the actor spent the night at their house after the event. He also confirmed that Spacey bought a Mini Cooper at the auction held that night for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The alleged victim said he may have gotten the year wrong, but that he would not have forgotten the incident because it took his breath away and he almost crashed the car.
The timeline, however, is important because the man testified that Spacey had fondled him over several years beginning in the early 2000s. The incident was the final occasion, he said, when he threatened to hit the actor and then avoided him.
Spacey said the two were friends and they engaged in some romantic contact but the man was straight, so the actor respected his wishes not to go further. He said he was crushed when he learned the man had complained to police about him and said the man had “reimagined” what had been consensual touching.
Furnish said he was familiar with the accuser and described him as “charming,” the same term Spacey used.
Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges that include sexual and indecent assault counts and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.
Over two days of testimony last week, the two-time Academy Award winner insisted that he never sexually assaulted three of the four accusers who described disturbing encounters between 2001 and 2013. The acts allegedly escalated from unwanted touching to aggressive fondling to one instance of performing oral sex act on an unconscious man.
Spacey dismissed one man’s fondling claims as “pure fantasy” and said he shared consensual encounters with two others who later regretted it. He accepted the claims of a fourth man, saying he had made a “clumsy pass” during a night of heavy drinking, but he took exception to the “crotch-grabbing” characterization.
John’s testimony comes just over a week after he wrapped up his 50-year touring career with a show in Stockholm.
It’s the second time the “Rocket Man” star and Furnish have made appearances in a London courtroom this year. The two showed up at hearings in their phone hacking lawsuit with Prince Harry against the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper.
The couple, the Duke of Sussex and actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost are among a group of claimants that allege Associated Newspapers Ltd. violated their privacy by intercepting voicemails and using unlawful methods to snoop on them.
A judge is deciding whether to throw out the case after the publisher said the group waited too long to bring their claims.