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The 2014 rape allegations X-Men director Bryan Singer faced

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

What was Bryan Singer accused of?

Two men — 31-year-old Michael Egan, and an anonymous 25-year-old referred to as John Doe No. 117 — filed lawsuits accusing Singer of sexually assaulting them when they were underage. Egan alleged the abuse began when he was 15 and continued until he was 17, while John Doe claimed Singer assaulted him once in 2006, at an afterparty for the London premiere of Superman Returns.

What did Michael Egan accuse Bryan Singer of?

Michael Egan, 31, alleges that Singer drugged him, got him drunk, and raped him in both California and Hawaii in 1999 when he was 17, and that the abuse began when he was 15 years old.

Singer's first alleged assault on Egan, Egan claims, was assisted by a man named Marc Collins-Rector. Collins-Rector is a registered sex offender, having pleaded guilty in 2004 to luring minors across state lines. Egan accuses Collins-Rector of sexually assaulting him repeatedly at Collins-Rector's mansion, known as the M&C Estate.

The complaint states that Egan met Collins-Rector through a friend shortly after moving to Los Angeles at the age of 14 or 15 (the complaint does not specify Egan's age). Shortly after that, Egan began a sexual relationship with Collins-Rector.

That first alleged assault by Singer occurred at the M&C Estate (the complaint does not include a specific date) during a party that Singer was attending; Egan and his lawyer Jeff Herman have said Egan was 15 when the first alleged assault — forced oral sex and sodomy — allegedly took place.

Egan claims Singer repeatedly assaulted him after this incident. The complaint specifically highlights two alleged trips to Hawaii between August and October of 1999, when Egan was 17. Egan alleges that on the Hawaii trip, Singer provided him with both prescription and illegal drugs, promised him acting roles, forced him to inhale cocaine, and anally raped him.

Egan's lawsuit also implies Egan might not be the only victim, and alleges that Singer was a prominent player in a large sex ring in Southern California that preyed on underage boys.

What did the anonymous plaintiff accuse Bryan Singer of?

The second lawsuit against Singer was civil and was filed by an anonymous John Doe.

Doe alleged that Singer's friend, Broadway producer Gary Goddard, 59, met Doe online when he was an underage boy. Doe also alleged that Goddard had sex with him and then introduced him to Singer at an afterparty for the London premiere of Superman Returns in 2006.

Doe said Singer gave him alcohol, offered him a Quaalude (which Doe rejected), and then proceeded to assault him. Doe claimed he was forced to fondle himself while sitting on Singer's lap. The morning after, the complaint continues, Singer allegedly called John Doe to apologize for assaulting him.

The lawsuit was dismissed in July 2014.

Who is Jeff Herman, the lawyer who took on Bryan Singer?

Herman is a lawyer who specializes in sex abuse cases and representing victims. Prior to the Singer case, Herman was perhaps best known for his lawsuit against Kevin Clash, a puppeteer most famous for portraying Elmo for nearly three decades. The case was somewhat similar to the suits against Singer, as Herman's client alleged that Clash had slept with him while he was underage. The case was eventually dismissed because of New York's statute of limitations on civil complaints, but not before Clash lost his job.

Herman has also taken on the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Miami. And won. Over the years, Herman has handled more than 80 cases of alleged sex abuse in the church. "The church has settled dozens of them, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. In 2006 alone, the archdiocese settled six abuse cases for a total of $750,000," the Miami New Times reported in 2010.

In 2011, Herman won a $100 million verdict against a Miami priest who abused his client in 1986. He's also helped his clients obtain settlements with the Archdiocese of Denver.

Herman has also taken on schools (he won a $5.25 million bullying case in Miami), Orthodox rabbis, and New York financier Jeffrey Epstein (Herman's clients settled for an undisclosed amount after seeking $50 million in damages). Herman told the Daily Beast that he has litigated more than 800 cases involving abuse.

Herman has had a history of success in court, but not everyone is a fan of his methods. Bryan Singer's lawyer, Marty Singer (no relation), said Herman's lawsuit was nothing more than a publicity stunt. "This matter is nothing more than the attorney seeking to get his 15 minutes of fame by sending out a press release with his ‘media consultant’ yesterday following up with a press conference today. Attorneys who try cases don’t hold press conferences," Marty Singer said in a statement.

And in 2012, the Archdiocese of Miami had a similar complaint regarding Herman's media strategy.

"When the news media cover these Jeff Herman press conferences, they do not come away with the full truth," Mary Ross Agosta, the archdiocese’s communications director, said in a statement. "They are either not asking follow-up questions or Jeff Herman is not revealing any details."

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What do we know about the alleged "sex ring" and sex parties?

In the days following the initial lawsuit against Singer, BuzzFeed's Adam Vary spoke with six people who attended parties Singer threw, which Singer allegedly used to meet young men. Some of these soirees were lavish, reportedly involving expensive meals and lots of young men hanging out at Singer's house and, in many cases, sleeping with him.

The big takeaway from Vary's reporting is that Singer was careful about making sure the men he was meeting were of age:

"There’s a lot of 19-year-olds," said the partygoer. "I would say it’s a majority [of] 19- and 18-year-olds more so than 20 and up." ...

Indeed, Singer’s friend who freely admits he has connected Singer with young men was adamant that the director, who is 48, is "incredibly cautious" about making sure those men are of age.

Gawker's Jordan Sargent's reporting came to a similar conclusion: Singer liked young men, but was very careful about making sure they were above the age of consent.

But both Vary and Sargent's stories imply that it wouldn't be difficult for an underage boy to sneak into these parties. Sargent writes:

Though nearly everyone we talked to affirmed that Singer is careful about the ages of boys he sleeps with, it's not hard for, say, a 17-year-old to get his attention. The gates to Singer's mansion are wide open if you're young, cute, and skinny—and if you can't find your way in, there's likely someone out there to pluck you.

It's important to bear in mind, though, that while the behavior here (giving minors alcohol, etc.) is questionable and disturbing, it isn't proof that the rape allegations against Singer are true.

Who besides Bryan Singer was accused of being part of this "sex ring"?

After filing the lawsuit against Singer, Michael Egan and his lawyer filed three more lawsuits in Hawaii and California on April 21. The complaints alleged that Garth Ancier, Gary Goddard, and David Neuman — all entertainment executives — had abused him, as well.

Egan said Goddard drugged him, and then abused him on more than one occasion. Goddard was also named in a second, separate lawsuit filed by John Doe, who claims that Goddard started abusing him at age 14 and continued to do so for at least three years thereafter. Goddard is present in photographs with Doe that his lawyer, Jeff Herman, has provided.

David Neuman, a former executive with Current and Disney, was also named in the first suit by Egan. The complaint filed against him alleges that Neuman promised Egan jobs and help with his career in exchange for sex. "Defendant Neuman often told Plaintiff that he would find a role for him in television shows, and that he would use his connections to further Plaintiff's acting career," the complaint read. The alleged abuse began when Egan was 15.

Finally, Garth Ancier, 56, is a former executive at Fox. The complaint alleged that he drugged Egan "to the extent that he was incapable of knowingly and voluntarily consenting to any sexual contact with Defendant Ancier when he was not asleep."

On June 18, 2014, Egan dropped the lawsuits against these men.

What happened to the lawsuits?

The lawsuits facing Bryan Singer were dismissed, as were the lawsuits against other men accused of sex abuse:


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