British prosecutors said Thursday they had authorised police to charge actor Kevin Spacey with four counts of sexual assault against three men, an announcement that came as the actor was in court in New York testifying in a different case. The Crown Prosecution Service said it had “authorised criminal charges” on the four sex assault counts and one of “causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent”. The alleged incidents took place in London between March 2005 and August 2008, and one in western England in April 2013. The alleged victims are now in their 30s and 40s. Rosemary Ainslie, head of the service’s Special Crime Division, said the charges followed a review of evidence gathered by London’s Metropolitan Police. Prosecutors initially said Spacey had been charged. However, they later clarified that charges had been authorised, but the formal charging by police had not yet taken place. The authorisation to charge means criminal proceedings against Spacey are under way. The police force said Spacey – who is not currently in Britain – “will be formally charged at a later date”. If Spacey does not return to Britain to face the charges, prosecutors could seek to start extradition proceedings. Spacey, a 62-year-old double Academy Award winner, was questioned by British police in 2019 about claims by several men that he had assaulted them. The former House of Cards star ran London’s Old Vic Theatre between 2004 and 2015. Lawsuit accusing Kevin Spacey of groping dismissed after accuser died Spacey won a best supporting actor Academy Award for the 1995 film The Usual Suspects and a lead actor Oscar for the 1999 movie American Beauty . But his celebrated career came to an abrupt halt in 2017 when actor Anthony Rapp accused the star of assaulting him at a party in the 1980s, when Rapp was a teenager. Spacey denies the allegations. Spacey testified Thursday in a courtroom in New York in the civil lawsuit filed by Rapp. Spacey didn’t respond to reporters as he left the courthouse talking on his mobile phone. The British charges were mentioned briefly by Rapp’s lawyers during the court hearing, and Spacey’s lawyers were asked about it by reporters during a break in testimony. They declined to comment. Another criminal case brought against Spacey, an indecent assault and battery charge stemming from the alleged groping of an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket resort, was dismissed by Massachusetts prosecutors in 2019.