Within hours, Spacey had responded to the Buzzfeed interview. In a tweet that was posted at midnight Eastern Time, the actor, 58, said of Rapp:
"I'm beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not recall the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years."
In a much-debated pivot, Spacey then devoted the second (and longer) half of his statement to say that Rapp's story "has encouraged me to address other things about my life."
He went on to confirm longstanding rumors about his sexuality, stating, "I choose now to live as a gay man."
Spacey's use of his first public statement about alleged inappropriate behavior toward a teenager to come out generated a second wave of discussion on Twitter and other social media outlets.
A top comment on Spacey's tweeted statement comes from the conservative Columbia Bugle, which said, "Nobody cares if you're gay, what we care about is that you allegedly sexually assaulted a young boy, you imbecile."
Others accused the actor of using a coming-out story as a distraction from the damaging news about him.
"No no no no no!" actress and comedian Wanda Sykes wrote. "You do not get to 'choose' to hide under the rainbow! Kick rocks!"
Dan Savage, the advice columnist and activist, wrote, "Nope to Kevin Spacey's statement. Nope. There's no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child."
Spacey, an Oscar winner who was made an honorary knight of the British empire last summer, concluded his statement by writing, "I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior."
It was not clear whether Spacey was referring to dealing with his own sexuality, or with Rapp's allegations against him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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