She Accused the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter of Rape. They Made Her Life Hell.
An online fan army of Backstreet Boys fans has used everything in its power to try to discredit Melissa Schuman’s rape allegation against Nick Carter, spreading #HisSideToo.
In November 2017, Melissa Schuman, a former singer in the girl group Dream, wrote a blog post detailing her alleged sexual assault by the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter when she was 18. The post was picked up in a rising tide of #MeToo accusations, and Schuman’s shocking story gave way to an all-too-familiar one: Carter emphatically denied the allegations, Schuman posted on social media that she was filing a police report, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office subsequently declined the case because the statute of limitations had passed.
Schuman previously spoke to The Daily Beast about her decision not to go public at the time of her alleged assault, and detailed her process of coming forward decades later: “I was told by so many people that I had no other recourse. What do you do, when you’re told and you believe that you have no other recourse? You’re told to just suck it up and move on and make the best of it. And that’s what I did.”
As she wrote in her original blog post, “I didn’t have the money, the clout or access to an attorney who was powerful enough to stand up against my abuser’s legal counsel. I was told I would likely be buried in humiliation, accused of being fame hungry, and it would ultimately hurt me professionally as well as publicly.”
Schuman told The Daily Beast that everything changed after reading a previous story, published in 2017 by Radar Online, that disclosed a 2006 police incident report wherein Carter was investigated after a fan accused him of sexually assaulting her at a house party. “I couldn’t believe that there would be other people,” Schuman recalled thinking. “When I saw the article, and I saw the similarities, with the bathroom… I felt at that moment that it wasn’t about just me anymore, and I had a responsibility to do and say something.”
In that August interview, Schuman mentioned fans who have harassed her online, who she believed were emboldened by comments made by Carter’s fellow Backstreet Boys members Brian Littrell and AJ McLean, as well as Carter’s Dancing with the Stars partner Sharna Burgess. “I think what is unique for me is that my abuser has a slew of fans, people who support him no matter what,” Schuman explained. “And they’ve made it their life’s mission to destroy me.”
Schuman’s blog post quickly led to a rebuttal: “The Curious Case of Nick Carter and Melissa Schuman: Everything We Have Questions About,” published on the Backstreet Boys’ fan website What Happens on The Backstreet. “Before we lay out what we know and why we’re confused, let’s get one thing straight—we are not ‘victim shaming’ and we know the whole ‘this is why victims don’t come forward’ psychology,” the post begins.
It goes on to list “WHY we’re all confused about these allegations,” leading with what the writer deems “the most questionable fact regarding Melissa and Nick”: the fact that she followed him on Twitter. Sharna Burgess tweeted out a link to the blog post, writing, “Know your facts before stating your opinion.”
In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Schuman took issue with the fact that Burgess’s many social media followers, “Were reading it like it was some sort of unbiased blog.” She continued, “I realized that Sara Taylor [the author of the blog post] has written for Nick’s official website, Nick Carter.net, as well as What Happens on The Backstreet. So she worked with his people, she’s had contact with his people. In my opinion, there’s no way that they didn’t know about her blog.”
The question of Nick Carter and his team’s involvement in the viral campaigns to clear his name is a fascinating one. As far back as February, you can find Twitter traces of the hashtag #HisSideToo. It’s often nestled within other hashtags, like #RegretIsNotRape, #MelissaSchumanIsALiar, and #IStandWithNickCarter. Click on the links that many of these tweets provide, and they’ll lead you to a YouTube channel: Ask Golightly. Another set of blog posts dedicated to debunking Schuman’s case and shedding light on her “lies” and “smear campaign” provides some background on the woman behind the channel, “‘Molly Golightly’ aka Marissa Gonzalez.” The post describes her as “Nick Carter’s most vocal public ally,” adding, “She has become well known throughout this entire four-month debacle, and expressed her own views and opinions in various videos on YouTube that included a multitude of progressions and frustrations about Melissa’s false rape allegation.”
“She had also started a private group (and a #HisSideToo movement) where others who shared the views of Nick’s innocence could discuss the case and collect evidence, facts, screenshots, without speculation.”
Though Golightly has taken the majority of the Melissa Schuman/Nick Carter videos off of her YouTube channel, The Daily Beast has reviewed a number of the deleted vlogs. A video entitled “#HisSideToo-What Is It?” from nine months ago is still up on YouTube. In it, she describes the hashtag as something “I came up with over a week ago.”
While Golightly seems to have started the movement on behalf of all of the male celebrities that she believes to have been falsely accused, #HisSideToo quickly became a Carter-centric endeavor.
In another video, Golightly explained that the private #HisSideToo group consisted of around 20 women across the world. Some of these women seem to have taken on the Golightly moniker on social media, like Penny Golightly, Holly Golightly, and Blondie Golightly. Many of their Twitter accounts feature #HisSideToo or the peace sign emoji in their profiles. A typical #HisSideToo tweet bashes Melissa Schuman, praises Nick Carter and the Backstreet Boys, or does both—examples include “@nickcarter Always have your back nick!! We love you!! #hissidetoo [one heart and three peace sign emojis]” or “Anyone who trash talks about #NickCarter and actually believe a consistent liar #shitstainSchuman has a low IQ.”
Melissa Schuman recently appeared as a guest on journalist Jeff Pearlman’s podcast. Pearlman went on to write about #HisSideToo on his website, explaining, “It’s been a fascinating follow-up, in that there’s this legion of largely anonymous women who are A. Convinced Melissa is lying; B. Determined to make it clear—via anonymous social media posts and the #HisSideToo hashtag—that Melissa is lying; and C. Love the Backstreet Boys.” Asked for comment on his experience with what he described as “the weirdest gaggle of people,” Pearlman told The Daily Beast, “They’re adult women who have decided to find every reason a woman is lying about being raped—all because they love the Backstreet Boys.”
“It’s beyond disturbing,” Pearlman continued, “Mainly because it’s all the same nonsense men have said about women who say they were raped for years and years. ‘Her story changed. She’s doing it to get rich. She wants the attention. Nick would never do that.’ Seriously, it’s infuriating.”
Schuman described Golightly’s campaign to The Daily Beast as “just major gas lighting, constant harassment.” She recounted, “I had people emailing me, warning me about some crazy things—secret Facebook groups, people driving by my house and packages being delivered and my personal information being given out online. And it was just all very, very scary.”
Golightly opened one video by saying that, “We are doing what I promised would never happen, we’re doing another Melissa Schuman video. Who remembers Melissa Schuman? I do, you want to know why? Because the bitch won’t shut up.”
“Do we need to get videos of screaming outside your place?” she taunted. “How ‘bout that house that we checked out…They’re living in this little two-bedroom place in ghetto town, [neighborhood redacted]. I don’t know if visitors are coming by still and watching you walk your little dog and leave with your little son.” She claimed that she had not personally been by Schumans’ house, adding, “We know these things about you…it gets back to us.”
Golightly’s videos, ranging from short updates to 40-minute-long rants, follow a predictable logic and often return to a set of trusty bullet points. She emphasizes Schuman’s purportedly ever-changing story, and all of the “lies” that her private team of #HisSideToo investigators have uncovered. When she isn’t mining Schuman’s social media or her anonymous sources for content and accusations, she reverts back to classic victim-shaming tropes, like, “What did you think was going to happen when you willingly went into another room with Nick Carter.” In one video, she insisted, “[Schuman] went along with it…She’s thinking, Nick’s totally going to be my boyfriend. It’s probably why she laid there like a dead fish.” She further hypothesized that on the day of her alleged assault, Schuman woke up “butt hurt” because Carter wasn’t in bed “cuddling with her.”
“I still struggle with what my future looks like as a result of what they did to me online, because there’s just so many lies out there,” Schuman told The Daily Beast. “And how do you fight that? How do you tell everybody, like, hey, this source is biased, or that’s not a true statement?”
When asked for comment, Golightly emailed The Daily Beast, “Melissa Schuman is a liar. Now go take a hike. Never contact me again. No one cares about that girls lies. It’s over.”
So how did Molly Golightly, a self-described “Certified Level 2 Transformation Life Coach,” come to be the face of #HisSideToo?
In her videos, Golightly insists that she’s not a Backstreet Boys fan, but rather somebody who knew Nick Carter “quite some time ago.” She has alluded to a tabloid story that she did in 2000, and a subsequent “revamped” story that she gave a comment for years later. A November 2015 Star article revisits a series of sexual encounters that Gonzalez claimed to have had with Carter when she was 22. “I haven’t followed Nick or his career at all since then; I haven’t even watched him on DWTS,” Gonzalez told the tabloid. “But he seems to have found happiness in his life, and I wish him all the best.” Gonzalez has used her alleged decades-old knowledge of Carter’s intimate habits in her many attempts to discredit Schuman’s accusations, with comments like, “Nick likes the lights on. He doesn’t like the lights off” and “From what I remember, he’s very, very shy around women.” (Carter was also once accused of beating ex-girlfriend Paris Hilton.)
In addition to her personal research into the Schuman and Carter case, Golightly has claimed in her videos and on her since-deleted Twitter to be in contact with a number of “sources” close to the Backstreet Boys singer. She repeatedly cites conversations she has had with Carter’s wife, Lauren Kitt Carter. In one video, she claimed that she began talking to Lauren Kitt Carter around May. “There’s nothing wrong with Lauren Carter talking to me, ok?!” she announced. In the video, which was centered around sending prayers and support to the Carters as they mourned a miscarriage, Golightly repeatedly blamed Schuman for the family tragedy, asking, “Was your claim worth it?”
“She finally found her way to get revenge,” Golightly raged. “I can’t believe that the rest of us in society have to walk this earth with a person like her roaming around.”
“Every time someone hurts you, hurts your fucking feelings, everything that happens to you in your fucking future, think of me, think of Lauren Kitt, and think of fucking Nick Carter cause you fucking deserve every bad fucking thing that happens to you, she continued, addressing Schuman. “Everything bad coming your way is so well deserved.”
Lauren Kitt Carter has repeatedly used the #HisSideToo hashtag on Twitter. In August, she retweeted a post about Asia Argento, writing, “No way! She lied? Liars make it that much harder for real victims to be believed; such a shame. #Hissidetoo #MeToo #TimesUp Keep fighting the good fight regardless of immoral lying hypocrites.” A Twitter user with #HisSideToo in her profile has one of Carter’s tweets pinned, captioned, “Thank you for using #hissidetoo, @_Lauren_Kitt! :) It means so much to us (the girls from the original group).”
Schuman told The Daily Beast that Lauren Kitt Carter’s #HisSideToo tweets are “disturbing” to her. “This is not like some known hashtag,” she explained. “It was created by [Golightly], and #HisSideToo supporters took [Lauren’s tweets] as confirmation that [Golightly] was in fact communicating with Lauren.”
Another since-deleted Golightly video, “Nick Carter gives #HisSideToo an update,” was heavily shared by the #HisSideToo contingent in August. In a follow-up, Golightly addressed questions about her sources for the video, saying, “Nick did not tell me face to face or over the phone his accounts of what happened with him and Melissa Schuman. But a close source to him did state, and give me permission to tell the story.” At another point, she remarked, “Why would I know these explicit details if Nick didn’t tell them to someone to relay them to me?” She goes on to say that even though it upsets her to talk about Melissa Schuman, she continues to make videos because “right now it’s necessary for Nick Carter.” (Carter and his wife did not respond to numerous requests for comment.)
“I mean if she made that up, I feel like [Nick’s team] has a responsibility to say no, Nick did not say this, she does not speak on behalf of him,” Schuman remarked. “And it was in the middle of an open investigation.” She continued, “BSB and Nick and his team have never once come out and said, you know, we don’t condone this, or no, we’re not in contact. It appeared to me, they ignored it or acted like that they didn’t know about the #HisSideToo movement.”
In a different video, Golightly again defended her alleged relationship with Lauren Kitt Carter. “If my husband was high profile, and he was being attacked, and there was a woman out there with a bunch of girls behind her that were trying to prove my husband’s innocence, you better believe I’m gonna want to exchange some notes with her,” she divulged. “Is she my main source of information? No, absolutely not,” she says, before concluding, “We have the same goal in common.”
In October, some of the #HisSideToo contingent took a well-documented trip to see the Backstreet Boys perform in Vegas. In a lengthy vlog, “My Backstreet Boys Experience #HisSideToo,” Golightly began, “HisSideToo girls, we all came together because we had a personal belief that someone from the Backstreet Boys needed our help when they were falsely accused of rape,” before getting into the specifics of the Vegas trip. She recalled talking to the band members and posing with them for pictures during a meet and greet: “I hear Marissa, Marissa, Marissa, I didn’t know who it was. It was Nick Carter!” A photo Marissa shared on Instagram from the meet-up shows the band members holding up the peace sign that’s so prevalent in #HisSideToo posts. Her hashtags include #godblessthecarters #fuckyouShitstain and #youbeggedforit [peace sign emoji].”
In reaction to “this pic showing off #hissidetoo,” a Twitter user named Steph tweeted about her disappointment in “a group that I loved so much for so long.” Steph told The Daily Beast that she hasn’t had any personal interaction with the people behind the hashtag, but believes that, “This entire situation has been handled extremely poorly by the BSB themselves, their management and the people close to them.”
She continued, “Brian has been quoted as saying ‘there are fame seekers out there’ when questioned about this, and AJ has said Melissa is a liar as well. There seems to be no doubt in their minds (at least publicly) that Nick is innocent and they should have neglected to comment. Nick’s wife has gone off on twitter numerous times. All of those actions have left a really bad taste in my mouth. Especially since Nick has been accused a couple of times in the past. It is incredibly disappointing that BSB continue to not address the issue in a serious manner, only to make offhanded comments that shame victims.” (She requested that The Daily Beast not link to her Twitter account.)
“Many BSB fans, including Backstreet Boys and Nick, were using a peace sign appearing to acknowledge #HisSideToo,” Schuman told The Daily Beast about the Vegas photo shoot. “And it’s just enough to go, oh, maybe it’s just a peace sign…It’s just enough gas lighting for me to be like, is it? Are they acknowledging it or aren’t they?”
“You know, I understand if you want to stand by your bandmate—you have a right to do that—but you don’t have a right to call me a fame-seeker or say that my experience is bogus. Once they made those public statements, it continued to fuel the fire online,” she continued. “There’s a point in time where you guys have to be able to stand up and say, hey, you know, although we stand with him, in no way shape or form do we condone this kind of online harassment from our fans.”