Kevin Spacey ordered to pay $31m to House of Cards studio over sexual abuse claims

Kevin Spacey is seen sitting outside a cafe

Kevin Spacey has been ordered to pay nearly $31 million to the studio that made House of Cards over his sexual harassment breach.

In a secret ruling last year, an arbitrator ordered Spacey, 62, and his production companies to pay MRC for breaching his contract.

The ruling, issued 13 months ago, was made public Monday (22 November) when lawyers for MRC petitioned a California court to confirm the award, Variety reported of the 46-page ruling.

Spacey once played dog-eat-dog politician Frank Underwood in the hit Netflix show as well as serving as executive producer.

But as the sixth and final season was being filmed in 2017 and as the #MeToo movement began to rumble, actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance toward him in 1986.

Rapp would have been only 14 at the time.

Almost immediately, Netflix and MRC suspended production on the series and wrote out Underwood, the show’s centerpiece. Kevin Spacey has denied any wrongdoing.

Rapp’s public allegations emboldened House of Cards crew members to speak out, describing a “toxic” work environment patterned by Spacey’s “predatory” sexual harassment.

Kevin Spacey’s breach of contract cost studio millions, arbitration says

The snowballing accusations all but halted Kevin Spacey’s acting career, who has – for the most part – shied away from the spotlight.

Spacey’s backslide cost MRC millions, the arbitration papers said, since it had already spent money developing, writing and shooting the final season.

The sixth season, which was rejigged to kill off Underwood and cut from 13 to eight episodes, brought in less revenue as a result.

MRC lodged a lawsuit to the Los Angeles Superior Court in January 2019 with the aim of recovering the costs and arguing that Spacey’s behaviour violated the studio’s sexual harassment policy.

Kevin Spacey (Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)

Following an eight-day confidential hearing in February 2020, the arbitrator agreed, issuing a reward of nearly $31 million (£23.2 million) including compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees.

Kevin Spacey, as well his production companies M Profitt Productions and Trigger Street Productions, were footed with the bill. His lawyers appealed, but it was denied.

In a Buzzfeed article, Rapp, who met Spacey while performing on Broadway, said the actor made a sexual advance toward him at a party in Spacey’s Manhattan apartment.

Spacey, a lawsuit filed by Rapp in 2020 said, grabbed Rapp’s buttocks, lifted him into bed and lay on top of him.

It was an encounter that Kevin Spacey claimed he did not recall, he said in a 2017 statement.

“If I did behave then as he describes,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter.

“I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour.”