Arts

Unruh recounts son telling her about alleged Kevin Spacey sexual assault

Heather Unruh appeared at a news conference Wednesday.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Heather Unruh appeared at a news conference Wednesday.

“Mom, Kevin Spacey tried to rape me.”

That’s the phone call former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh told NBC News correspondent Kate Snow she received from her son in 2016, when he told her that Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted him in a Nantucket restaurant.

“That’s the hardest phone call I’ve ever taken,” Unruh said during an interview that aired on the “Today” show Thursday.

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Unruh, who worked at WCVB Channel 5 until 2016, recounted the story publicly on Wednesday during a press conference in Boston alongside attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented victims of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal.

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She told NBC that her son was working as a busboy at The Club Car restaurant on the island in July 2016. One night after his shift, someone introduced him to Spacey, and the “completely starstruck” then-18-year-old told Spacey he was 21, Unruh said. The actor began buying the teen “a lot of drinks,” she said.

“There were a few red flags that in hindsight he can see probably should have raised his suspicion and set off alarms, but it wasn’t until, um, Kevin Spacey put his hand inside his pants that he really knew he was in trouble,” Unruh told Snow.

The former anchor said her son did not give his consent.

“It made him incredibly uncomfortable,” she said. “He did try to shift his body because that’s the only thing he knew might help. But Kevin Spacey continued to put his hands back in his pants.”

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The Club Car’s management posted a statement on Facebook Wednesday in the wake of Unruh’s accusation, saying they were “saddened” to hear what had happened to her son. The statement noted that the current owners purchased the restaurant after the alleged assault occurred.

“While the name remains, our chef, the staff, menu and environment have been reimagined,” the statement read. “We uphold the highest standards for safety and service. Underage drinking is strictly prohibited at our restaurant.”

Unruh reiterated that she is “forever grateful” to the woman who approached her son when the actor got up to use the restroom and told him to run. Unruh alleges Spacey was trying to get her son to go with him to a private party before he went to bathroom.

“We would be having a whole other conversation if she hadn’t stepped in,” she said.

Unruh said her son ran a mile to his grandmother’s house, where he told his sister what happened before they both called Unruh.

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The former anchor said she and her family, especially her son who is currently a sophomore in college, want Spacey “to be stopped.”

“He doesn’t want another young man to be injured,” she said.

Shortly after The New York Times bombshell article on Harvey Weinstein was published, Unruh tweeted that Kevin Spacey “assaulted a loved one.” Her tweet gained renewed attention when, in a Buzzfeed article published Oct. 29, actor Anthony Rapp said that Spacey climbed on top of him in a bedroom at a party when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was in his 20s.

Spacey issued an apology to Rapp in a statement, saying, “I honestly do not remember 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.”

He added that he had “loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.” The actor faced enormous backlash for the timing of his coming out.

Since then, the Oscar-winning actor has since been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 13 other men, and Netflix announced that the Spacey-led show “House of Cards” had been canceled, immediately halting production of its sixth season. On Wednesday night, it was announced that Spacey is being cut from Ridley Scott’s already-completed film “All the Money in the World.”

Dialynn Dwyer can be reached at dialynn.dwyer@globe.com