05.01.14 6:35 PM ET
‘Dozens and Dozens’ of Hollywood Sex Assault Victims Coming Forward, Lawyer Says
The lawyer suing X-Men director Bryan Singer and other Hollywood power players for sexual assault says he has heard from “dozens and dozens and dozens of victims” alleging sexual assault and abuse by other “big names” in the movie industry.
“They are ready to come forward,” said the controversial Florida-based attorney Jeff Herman. “It cuts across all of Hollywood: studios, agents, directors, producers, and actors.”
Herman is representing Michael Egan, 31, in the highly publicized suits alleging sexual assault against Singer, Broadway producer Gary Goddard, former Disney executive David Neuman, and producer Garth Ancier.
These new allegations are against an entirely different group of entertainment industry figures, Herman told The Daily Beast. “I know of [a] Hollywood sex ring, completely unrelated to these [Singer and the other three defendants’] cases,” Herman said.
“We are finishing investigations, and will be filing suits soon. It will involve big names. It involves a different part of Hollywood: agents of kids, that sort of thing. There’s really vile stuff going on in the industry. The scope is big, I’m hearing from a lot of people. It fits the pattern of children being sexually exploited.”
Herman declined to offer names or give The Daily Beast any further information about this alleged “sex ring.”
Meanwhile, Herman—and the case he’s brought against Singer and the other defendants—has himself been coming under heavy fire. The Hollywood Reporter revealed he had been suspended from practicing law for eighteen months in 2009, accused of “dishonest and deceitful” conduct, after investing in and ultimately controlling a company that went into business in competition with a client.
Of the suspension, Herman said: “It’s on the public record, and it’s all fair if they [his legal opponents] think its relevant. To try to attack my credibility, it is what it is, it’s a fact. I never denied I made an investment in a company. I didn’t think I needed a waiver, the Bar said I did. It’s obviously not relevant in court now. The defendants are trying to save their reputations, and they are entitled to do whatever they want. I don’t think it helps them. Every time I hear this pushback from defendants, I hear from more victims.”
The four men are strenuously denying the allegations made against them, including that some of the alleged abuse took place on a Hawaiian estate. Marty Singer, lawyer for Bryan Singer, said he had documentary evidence—phone records, credit card receipts—that prove Bryan Singer was not in Hawaii at the time of the alleged assaults.
Last week, Alan Grodin, lawyer for Goddard, said: “Mr. Goddard was not in Hawaii with Mr. Egan. He did not molest or touch or annoy Mr. Egan or commit any of the acts alleged. Also, he did not furnish drugs or alcohol to any minor at any time.”
But Herman told The Daily Beast that he had gathered the testimonies of witnesses who allegedly saw the men in Hawaii. “I wouldn’t be suing them if I didn’t believe they were there. I have witnesses who say they were there.”
If his suit was successful, Herman said he hoped Egan would receive damages “significantly into the millions, the tens of millions.”
Herman added: “A lot of people on the sidelines are watching right now. I’m hearing from some of them. They want to come forward but are still scared. Or there are witnesses who want to be anonymous. They will send an email saying, ‘I can’t tell you who I am but I have this information.’ As these cases move forward, it feels safer for people,” he said.
Herman specializes in sexual assault and abuse cases, most famously representing three men who claimed to have been abused by former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash. In 2011 Herman won a $100 million verdict against a Catholic priest who was accused of molesting dozens of boys. Herman told The Daily Beast he believed passionately in being “a voice for victims.”
In the Singer case, Herman says Marty Singer has threatened to sue him for malicious prosecution. “I get threats all the time,” he said, referring to previous cases. Herman added: “It really confirms for me why so many people stay silent about this. I can see how aggressive it is in Hollywood. I know what I’m doing and I do it in the right way. What it confirms to me is the fear of coming forward. Poor Mike comes forward and gets attacked, threatened. People ask why victims of abuse don’t come forward, and duh, this is why.”
Herman also countered the accusation that his suits were, as Ancier put it, “shamelessly exploit(ing) homophobic fears and stereotypes.”
“This is something which really irritates me,” said Herman. “Being gay doesn’t make you a predator. Being a predator and preying on underage kids makes you a predator. Whether you’re heterosexual or gay, it’s wrong. There is no double standard here. People say if [what is alleged] had happened in the straight community it would be tolerated. No it wouldn’t. If I knew of underage girls being abused by adult men it would be just as wrong. I would file the same lawsuits.”
Herman denied Bryan Singer’s accusation that the lawyer was conducting “a sick, twisted shakedown.” Herman said: “If what I wanted was a quick settlement, why would I file publicly? And lose my leverage by doing so? They’re upset I didn’t notify them ahead of time. Why? So they could settle with my client and keep things confidential. No, what we’re looking to do is put this in the public eye and U.S. District Court and shine a light on this. They are right, I am opportunistic. The reason I do press conferences is I want big splash so I can find witnesses. Also for clients: my clients want to expose predators and protect kids.”
Herman said he thought the Singer case could be a “watershed moment” for Hollywood. “The case has opened up something waiting to happen for a long time. I think there have been both victims and adults in the industry waiting for someone to come forward and expose this. It opens up the floodgates so people feel safe to come forward.”
Until now, Herman added, alleged victims of sexual assault “have been forced to look the other way. They felt helpless. What’s worse are the victims who felt they had to suffer in silence. I don’t think things will ever go back to the way they were. Perpetrators will always be looking to have access to kids, but the change in culture will be in adults no longer looking the other way. People in the business will see it as a matter of economics: they have to clean it up. That’s the way to get someone’s attention: hit them with a judgment.”
Meanwhile, the ongoing cycle of accusations and counter-claims continued. Late on Wednesday, Marty Singer hit back against fresh allegations from author Bret Easton Ellis about underage pool parties held by Bryan Singer.
The lawyer told the Daily Beast: “First, my client does not hold underage parties. It’s a ridiculous and false story. When my client has a party, there is a guest list, ID’s are checked, minors are not allowed to attend, and there is strict security with off duty police in attendance.”
“Also, Mr. Ellis admits that he never attended any party,” Singer added, “and it is not clear whether he was dating ‘underage’ people who allegedly went to the parties, and it appears that Mr. Ellis may be resentful or jealous that he was not invited to attend the parties. Significantly, there are no statements by anyone who attended the parties, who claim that there were ‘underage’ people present since that did not occur.”