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Elton John lends celebrity support to Kevin Spacey at the actor’s sexual assault trial

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LONDON — LONDON (AP) — Kevin Spacey ‘s lawyers enlisted the help of an A-list star Monday in his sexual assault trial, calling Elton John and his husband to cast doubt on one of the Oscar winner’s accusers at the end of the defense case.

John appeared briefly in the London court by video link from Monaco after his husband, David Furnish, testified that Spacey did not attend the annual party at their Windsor home at the time that the accuser said he was attacked in a car.

One of the alleged victims said he was driving with Spacey to the White Tie & Tiara Ball in 2004 or 2005 when the actor grabbed his crotch so forcefully that he almost ran off the road.

Furnish supported Spacey’s own testimony that the only year he had attended the event was 2001. Furnish said he had reviewed photographs taken at the party from 2001 to 2005 and Spacey only appeared in images that one year. He said all guests were photographed each year.

John, who was wearing yellow tinted glasses, a dark jacket and light blue open-collar shirt, said the actor attended the party once in the early 2000s and arrived after flying to England on a private jet.

Furnish said Spacey’s appearance was a surprise and he remembered it because it was a big deal.

“He was an Oscar-winning actor and there was a lot of buzz and excitement that he was at the ball,” said Furnish, who also testified from Monaco.

John said the actor spent the night at their house after the event. He also confirmed that Spacey bought a Mini Cooper at the auction held that night for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Spacey said he spent the most money “ever” on that model of car and he kept it in John’s garage until he could pick it up later.

The alleged victim said he may have gotten the year wrong, but that he would not have forgotten the incident because it took his breath away and he was driving and almost crashed the car.

The timeline, however, is important because the man testified that Spacey had fondled him over several years beginning in the early 2000s. The incident was the final occasion, he said. He threatened to hit the actor and after that avoided him.

Spacey said the two were friends and they engaged in some romantic contact but the man was straight, so the actor respected his wishes not to go further. He said he was crushed when he learned the man had complained to police about him and said the man had “reimagined” what had been consensual touching.

Furnish said he was familiar with the accuser and described him as “charming,” the same term Spacey used.

Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges that include sexual and indecent assault counts and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

Over two days of testimony last week, the two-time Academy Award winner insisted that he never sexually assaulted three of the four accusers who described disturbing encounters between 2001 and 2013. The acts allegedly escalated from unwanted touching to aggressive fondling to one instance of performing oral sex act on an unconscious man.

Spacey dismissed one man’s fondling claims as “pure fantasy” and said he shared consensual encounters with two others who later regretted it. He accepted the claims of a fourth man, saying he had made a “clumsy pass” during a night of heavy drinking, but he took exception to the “crotch-grabbing” characterization.

John was the final witness to testify in the trial that entered its fourth week in Southwark Crown Court.

Defense lawyer Patrick Gibbs rested his case after reading statements from 10 character witnesses — close friends, colleagues and a niece — who praised the actor’s work and compassion toward others. Closing arguments are expected later in the week.

John’s testimony came just over a week after he wrapped up his 50-year touring career with a show in Stockholm.

It’s the second time the “Rocket Man” star and Furnish have made appearances in a London courtroom this year. The two also showed up at hearings in their phone hacking lawsuit with Prince Harry against the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper.

The couple, the Duke of Sussex and actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost are among a group of claimants that allege Associated Newspapers Ltd. violated their privacy by intercepting voicemails and using unlawful methods to snoop on them.

A judge is deciding whether to throw out the case after the publisher said the group waited too long to bring their claims.

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