Spacey had tried to avoid appearing at the hearing but a judge refused and he was forced to face the world's media.
It is the first case against him to be prosecuted since a number of sex assault and harassment claims were made at the end of 2017.
The actor lost high-profile roles, including his leading part in House of Cards, and disappeared from public view after the claims surfaced.
Spacey, 59, is alleged to have bought an 18-year-old man several rounds of beer and whiskey at a bar and restaurant he worked at in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in July 2016.
He allegedly said at one point "Let's get drunk", according to charging documents.
As they stood next to a piano, it is claimed Spacey put his hands down the man's trousers.
Dozens of reporters were outside the court as Spacey entered, and at times the award-winning actor raised a small smile.
Spacey had tried to avoid appearing, arguing his presence would "amplify the negative publicity already generated" by the case, but a judge refused.
The Usual Suspects star stood for some of the brief hearing as lawyers for both sides spoke.
His representative, Alan Jackson, successfully argued that the alleged victim's phone records be preserved because they could benefit Spacey's case.
The judge warned Spacey to stay away from the alleged victim and his family as a condition of his bail and adjourned the case until 4 March.
He said the actor would not need to appear then, but should be available by phone.
Before Christmas, he released a video in which he acted as Frank Underwood, his House Of Cards character, saying: "I'm certainly not going to pay the price for the thing I didn't do."
Spacey's first accuser, actor Anthony Rapp, claimed Spacey had climbed on top of him on a bed in 1986 when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26.
That claim was made in October 2017, forcing the actor to say he did not remember but apologising if the allegations were true.