Michael Egan III, the 31-year-old man accusing X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him as a teenager, says he considered committing suicide as he struggled to come to terms with what he alleges happened to him.
In an exclusive interview, Egan told The Daily Beast: “I didn’t know who to talk to, or how to deal with the demons eating away at me. Suicide absolutely went through my mind. I had a horrible time with drinking. If it hadn’t been for the support of my mother and family, I don’t know what I would have done.”
Egan was speaking as his lawyer, Jeff Herman, launched a civil case against Singer alleging in court documents that the 48-year-old director “manipulated his power, wealth, and position in the entertainment industry to sexually abuse and exploit the underage plaintiff through the use of drugs, alcohol, threats, and inducements which resulted in the plaintiff suffering catastrophic psychological and emotional injuries.”
Egan alleged in the lawsuit filed in a Hawaii federal court that he was raped by Singer, forced to have oral sex against his will, and that the director also made him take cocaine, and provided him with drugs and alcohol.
Herman is seeking “significant compensation” for Egan, with a desired sum “well into the millions, seven or eight figures,” he told The Daily Beast. “What is a person’s life worth?” Egan said. “They destroyed the life of an adolescent, and it has affected me for the rest of my life.”
Egan, who is heterosexual, claimed in the suit that from age 15 through 17, Singer, as one of a ring of eight to 10 abusers, including other Hollywood power-players not named in this lawsuit—“whose names you will recognize,” Egan told The Daily Beast—sexually abused him.
The alleged abuse took place first in a mansion in Encino, Calif., which at the time was the home of Marc Collins-Rector, and his then-partner Chad Shackley, according to Egan’s complaint. Collins-Rector, the founder of the Digital Entertainment Network and a convicted sex offender, was last known to be living in the Dominican Republic. Some years ago, other young men filed lawsuits that Collins-Rector had abused and threatened them at the Encino home; three victims won a $4 million default judgment when he did not respond.
Egan said he had grown up in the Midwest, aspiring to be an actor. He was friends with Scott Shackley, Chad Shackley’s brother, who introduced him to Chad. In court documents, Egan said he was then invited to live in the Encino house.
“Immediately the brainwashing began,” Egan told The Daily Beast. Echoing the allegations in his complaint, Egan claimed that “they would sit me in a room and tell you that you were gay, which I wasn’t, that I had to keep the group happy. They constantly pushed you. The threats began immediately. They said that if we didn’t keep them happy, harm would come to ourselves and our families. There were threats of weapons. We were told we would be eliminated, our career chances would be destroyed. It was a living hell.”
According to Egan’s civil lawsuit, Collins-Rector once put a gun in his mouth, and locked him in a gun closet. Collins-Rector is not currently named as a defendant in the suit.
The civil suit goes into explicit detail about what Egan claims he allegedly suffered at Singer’s hands, including anal rape and forced oral sex. According to the suit, if Egan refused any of Singer’s demands, Egan claimed that Singer said he would tell Collins-Rector, who Egan was terrified would carry out his threats to harm him and/or his family. In his suit, Egan claims Singer told him “This group,” meaning the men at the Encino house, “controlled” Hollywood.
Egan spoke at a press conference, alongside Herman, about the alleged abuse at the Encino mansion. “At the house, it was drugs put in drinks. Liquor poured down my throat. Rules in the house: No swimsuits, no clothes out by the pool area. I was raped numerous times in that house. Various types of sexual abuse. You were like a piece of meat to these people. They’d pass you around between them.… If I could define what that house was, it’s evil.”
In a statement, Marty Singer, Bryan Singer’s lawyer, said: “The claims made against Bryan Singer are completely without merit. We are very confident that Bryan will be vindicated in this absurd and defamatory lawsuit. It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan's new movie [X-Men: Days of Future Past] is about to open in a few weeks.”
“We look forward to our bringing a claim for malicious prosecution against Mr. Egan and his attorney after we prevail,” the lawyer added in a later statement. “It is obvious that plaintiff's attorney is not looking to litigate the case on its merits. 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 and following up with a press conference today. Attorneys who try cases don't hold press conferences."
A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the X-Men franchise, said: “These are serious allegations, and they will be resolved in the appropriate forum. This is a personal matter, which Bryan Singer and his representatives are addressing separately.”
Herman denied to The Daily Beast that he had bought the civil case against Singer to capitalize on the film’s release date. Egan had come to him six months ago, Herman said, and since then his investigative team has been “carrying out due diligence in half a dozen states,” interviewing witnesses and looking through documents. Egan’s other abusers would be named as defendants in another lawsuit in the next few days, Herman told The Daily Beast.
Egan said his mother had reported the alleged incidents to the Los Angeles Police Department in 1999, but “it basically fell on deaf ears.”
A trauma therapist that Egan began seeing 11 months ago had both helped him come to terms with what had happened, and, Egan said, directed him to Herman. The lawyer had become nationally prominent, most recently by representing those who claimed to have been abused by Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash. That case was thrown out. In 2011, Herman won a $100 million verdict against a Catholic priest who was accused of molesting dozens of boys.
Herman indicated that he intends to file additional cases against alleged perpetrators—who he and Egan would not name—by April 24 in Hawaii, which he told The Daily Beast was the cutoff date for the statute of limitations there.
It emerged Thursday night that Egan had apparently sued Collins-Rector and Shackley in 2000, but had not named Singer in the suit. In that suit, the plaintiff was named Michael E., whose age would match Michael Egan’s. Marty Singer told The Hollywood Reporter: “If Bryan had done anything wrong, he would have been included in the previous lawsuit.” Herman was not available for comment.
These are not the first allegations of this kind against Singer. In 1997, a 14-year-old extra on Singer’s film Apt Pupil claimed that the filmmakers had ordered the young cast to strip for a shower scene. The Los Angeles District Attorney declined to file criminal charges because the nudity was not filmed with “lewd or abnormal intent.” A civil lawsuit against Singer was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Egan said he was so ashamed about what had happened to him he didn’t tell his former wife about it: “I buried it so deep within me. Several people killed themselves. I’m very lucky to be here. I didn’t know who I could trust to talk to.”
UPDATE, Friday April 18 2014, 6pm EST: Jeff Herman, lawyer for Michael Egan III, told The Daily Beast he would file suit against three more Hollywood executives who allegedly sexually assualted Egan, and coerced him into taking drugs, this Monday in a press conference to be held at 2pm at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. The men had abused Egan at the mansion in Encino, and on trips to Hawaii, Herman said. "I have not been in touch with the men," Herman said. "But I would imagine they have seen the coverage so far." Herman would not reveal the men's names today, but will on Monday. "If you work in Hollywood, you'll recognize their names," he told The Daily Beast.
Herman also claimed that there were other alleged abusers he intended to expose. "Some of the men abused Michael only in California, which has a different statute of limitations to Hawaii, and I'm still working out how to develop those cases. I intend to expose everyone. I believe there was more than one pedophile ring. I'm aware of other allegations invloving different Hollywood men. Some of the rings overlap. This is ring number one. There will be more."