LONDON, June 30 — Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey was today described as a "sexual bully", as prosecutors opened their case against him in London for a string of alleged assaults.

"Kevin Spacey Fowler is an actor; many of you will already know that," lawyer Christine Agnew told a jury at Southwark Crown Court, using the star's full name.

"He is an extremely famous actor who has won a number of awards. He is also, the prosecution allege, a man who sexually assaults other men."

Agnew said Spacey, a two-time Academy Award winner for "American Beauty" and "The Usual Suspects", did not respect personal boundaries or space.

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He was "a man who it would seem delights in making others feel powerless and uncomfortable, a sexual bully", the lawyer alleged in her opening speech.

"His preferred method of assault is,it appears, to grab aggressively other men in the crotch. On one occasion things went further than that."

Spacey, 63, denies three counts of indecent assault, seven counts of sexual assault, and one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

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He has also pleaded not guilty to a further charge of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

The alleged offences, against four men who cannot be identified under English law, are said to have occurred between 2001 and 2013.

Spacey was artistic director at London's Old Vic Theatre from 2003 to 2015. He received an honorary knighthood for his services to theatre, arts education and international culture in 2016.

Agnew said the actor had dismissed some of the allegations as "quite simply made up", and maintained that others were consensual.

'Damned lies'

The prosecutor alleged that Spacey, star of the political television drama "House of Cards", had "abused the power and influence that his reputation and fame afforded him".

Some of the alleged offences involved "inappropriate and unwelcome" touching, as well as groping, she said.

One alleged victim recalled Spacey making "crude and seedy sexual remarks" before grabbing him aggressively.

Another alleged Spacey had assaulted him while he was asleep, it was claimed.

Agnew questioned how four men, who were all apparently unknown to one another, would make similar allegations.

"Have they decided to manufacture allegations against the defendant in order to benefit financially?" Agnew asked.

She told the jury Spacey would suggest that.

But she said the prosecution case was that the actor used his "popularity and prominence, his illustriousness and influence... taking what and who he wanted, when he wanted".

Spacey's lawyer Patrick Gibbs said his client — a US citizen — had come back to the UK to answer the allegations against him and recount "what actually happened".

He said some of what the jury will hear has been "deliberately exaggerated".

"Mr Spacey was rich and influential. What did they (the alleged victims) want from his wealth and from his influence and what do they still want, do you think?" he asked the jury.

"You will soon hear, I suggest, some truths. You will soon hear some half-truths. You will also hear, I suggest... some deliberate exaggerations and you will hear many damned lies."

The case was adjourned until Monday. — AFP