The Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey is scheduled to go on trial in London on Wednesday, facing multiple allegations of sexual assault.
Since the #MeToo movement came to prominence six years ago, a number of high-profile men have been accused of misconduct, yet Mr. Spacey’s case is one of only a few to reach a British courtroom.
The actor, 63, has already pleaded not guilty to all charges. This month, in an interview with Zeit Magazin, a German magazine, he said he expected to be found innocent, after which he would resume acting.
The trial at Southwark Crown Court is scheduled to last four weeks. During that time, the courthouse is likely to be filled with reporters and celebrity watchers following the case.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why is Kevin Spacey on trial in Britain?
Mr. Spacey is accused of sexually assaulting four men in England between 2001 and 2013. For much of that period, Mr. Spacey was the artistic director of the Old Vic theater, one of London’s most acclaimed playhouses.
Last June, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service charged Mr. Spacey with four counts of sexual assault against three men, as well as another of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without their consent.
A few months later, in November, the prosecutors authorized seven further charges against Mr. Spacey related to another complainant. Those included three counts of sexual assault, three of indecent assault and one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.
Both sets of charges will be considered in this month’s trial.
How will the trial work?
Anna Bradshaw, a British criminal lawyer, said in a telephone interview that the case will look different from an American trial. In Britain, legal professionals called barristers argue cases in court while wearing the traditional garb of white wigs and black gowns.
The trial will not be televised, Ms. Bradshaw added, because cameras are rarely allowed in British courts. (Instead, specialist artists sketch the scene.)
The complainants will also not be publicly identified, Ms. Bradshaw said, adding that this rule was in place to protect accusers’ privacy and encourage victims of sexual assault to report incidents to the police. They will likely give evidence, and be cross-examined, “via a video-link, or, in court, possibly from behind a screen or curtain,” Ms. Bradshaw said.
During the four-week trial, the prosecutors will first outline their case to the 12-person jury, then Mr. Spacey’s team will make its defense.
What penalty does Mr. Spacey potentially face?
One of the offenses carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Others also come with potential jail terms. Under British law, judges have some flexibility to alter sentences.
If there is a guilty verdict, the judge would normally hold a separate hearing to announce the sentence at a later date, Ms. Bradshaw added.
What has Mr. Spacey said about the accusations?
In two hearings over the past year, Mr. Spacey pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Last June, Patrick Gibbs, Mr. Spacey’s legal representative, told a courtroom that the actor was determined to establish his innocence.
In Britain, where it is an offense to publish information that may bias a jury, defendants like Mr. Spacey face some restrictions in using the news media to make their case before a trial.
To avoid breaking British law, Mr. Spacey did not discuss the case in the Zeit Magazin article, apart from stressing his innocence. But he said he knew of directors who wanted to work with him once the trial ended. “I know that there are people right now who are ready to hire me the moment I am cleared of these charges,” he said.