A massage therapist known as John Doe in court documents in a lawsuit against actor Kevin Spacey has died, and there is a bit of mystery surrounding his death.
The Hollywood Reporter reports:
The individual, suing as a “John Doe,” filed claims in September 2018 with the allegation of being forced to grab the actor’s genitals twice during a massage two years earlier at a private residence in Malibu. In May, a federal judge in California allowed the case to move forward despite Spacey’s objection that the plaintiff’s identity was being shielded.
Now, just a month after the parties came to a plan for proceeding in the suit that detailed prospective discovery and envisioned a seven- to 11-day trial, the plaintiff’s attorney has informed Spacey that the client “recently passed.”
No further detail is provided, and a request to the plaintiff’s attorney for more information has not been answered.
The attorney for John Doe was appalled that Spacey and his team of attorneys would push forward with a public filing of the notice of the death of her client.
In a statement, John Doe’s attorney wrote:
“I regret being forced to respond to Kevin Spacey’s undignified, insensitive and inappropriate public filing of the notice of death of our client, John Doe.
It is true that Mr. Doe recently died. His untimely death was, to his family, a devastating shock that they are struggling to process and is so recent that they have not yet held his funeral service.
Out of professional responsibility, we notified Spacey’s counsel of Mr. Doe’s passing. We explained out intent to allow his family more time to get past their immediate, paralyzing grief and begin settling his affairs before we filed a death notice with the court – which is our prerogative as his counsel. Spacey ignored our request for compassion and filed the notice yesterday without our consent.
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While there is no deadline for filing a party’s death notice, filing triggers a 90-day countdown. That means that unless the estate is substituted in the party’s place, the court may dismiss the case.
Filing the notice yesterday was unnecessary and contemptible. I’m not surprised, however, that Spacey prematurely filed the notice in an attempt to gain the advantage of a ticking clock. Mr. Doe’s family must now open his estate at the same time as planning a funeral and processing their grief.
Mr. Doe was a dignified, kind, middle-aged man traumatized by Spacey’s alleged sexually depraved attack. As a result of this case, other victims from around the world have reached out to our firm. Mr. Doe believed their harrowing stories, and in his final months he looked forward to standing up for all of them. His fight for justice is still very much alive.
My firm grieves the loss of Mr. Doe, who was truly a wonderful client and human being. He brought light and love every tie he visited our office, and we were lucky to know him.”
The lawyer for John Doe, the man who accused #KevinSpacey of sexual assault, gave @HuffPost an exclusive statement on her client's death, and where the case against Spacey stands today. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/wBbdUrvmIA
— CMT (@CaroMT) September 18, 2019
— CMT (@CaroMT) September 18, 2019
According to Page Six, “Lawyers for Spacey filed a ‘notice of statement noting plaintiff’s death’ in the federal case on Tuesday. They said they were informed on Sept. 11 that the masseur had ‘recently passed.’”
“No further information or details have been given to Mr. Fowler’s counsel, but Plaintiff’s counsel stated they intended to notify the Court with additional information at an appropriate time in the future,” the filing said, referring to Spacey by his real name, Kevin Fowler.
Spacey was accused of attacking John Doe three years ago during a massage session in Malibu. Doe claimed that Spacey allegedly twice grabbed his hand and guided it to his private parts. Spacey was also accused of grabbing the alleged victim’s shoulders in an attempt to kiss him and trying to fondle his genitals.
Finally, Spacey was alleged to have offered to perform a sex act on the massage therapist, which led to him running from the session.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, heirs of John Doe could continue the suit.
The lawsuit could continue by the heirs of “John Doe,” though the issue of anonymity provides a complicating wrinkle. To show standing to sue, the heirs would likely have to identify the deceased accuser after getting a green light to administer his estate in probate court. A judge might also be less inclined to protect the privacy interests of the deceased. Even if the case moves forward, the loss of the most important witness to the alleged sexual assault would make it difficult to litigate.
The reason given was “the unavailability of the complaining witness.”
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