More names are surfacing in connection to the alleged Hollywood sex ring outlined in a lawsuit by plaintiff Michael Egan III, a 31-year-old actor from Nevada. Those names: Garth Ancier, a network exec who’s worked at Fox, the WB, and NBC; David Neuman, former president of DisneyTV, now part of the Digital Entertainment Network; and Gary Goddard, founder of a firm that designs resorts and movie-related theme park rides and erstwhile writer for TV shows like Skeleton Warriors, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, and Masters of the Universe.*
In three separate complaints, Egan accuses these men of “intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault, and invasion of privacy.” Ancier is charged with offering the aspiring actor, then in his teens, wine spiked with drugs before anally raping him. Goddard is claimed to have drugged, groped, and sodomized Egan. The case against Neuman also alleges sexual assault and rape. More broadly, the three show biz titans are accused of participating in “pedophile rings” that groomed young boys for sexual consumption in the late 1990s. Allegedly, they promised the teens a leg up in the acting world and at times physically and psychologically intimidated them in order to get sex.
These allegations come on the heels of a complaint Egan filed earlier in April against X-Men director Bryan Singer. Singer stands accused of luring the plaintiff to private gatherings at the M&C Estate in Encino, Calif., and the Paul Mitchell Estate in Hawaii; there, he allegedly plied the then-17-year-old Egan with cocaine, alcohol, weed, and professional enticements, such as modeling gigs, commercial appearances, and the chance to act in an X-Men movie. The suit says that Singer was one of several powerful Hollywood men who preyed on fresh-faced kids with dreams of making it big. Also accused of frequenting the parties were Marc Rector-Collins, former chairman of the Digital Entertainment Network (where Neuman works), and Chad Shackley, a DEN co-founder. (Rector-Collins, a registered sex offender in Florida, pleaded guilty in 2004 to charges of transporting minors across state lines to have sex.) Egan and other underage actors were added to the DEN payroll, receiving $1,500 a week for “legitimate work” and $600 a week for more nebulous services, the suit claims. A few of the ghastlier allegations:
- At one point, when Egan resisted sexual contact, Rector-Collins allegedly threatened him with a firearm and then locked him in a gun safe in the master bedroom closet.
- A nude, intoxicated Egan was allegedly passed between Singer and Rector-Collins in a hot tub and subjected to various sex acts. When he refused to perform oral sex on Singer, the older man allegedly forced Egan’s head underwater until he submitted and then forcibly sodomized him.
- The adults at the M&C Estate allegedly “strenuously pressured” the teenaged boys to ingest “copious amounts” of alcohol and drugs, and “surreptitiously administered” what they didn’t coerce. The boys were told that their predators “controlled Hollywood” and would crush their acting dreams if left unhappy. Egan claims that he in particular was warned that he and his family would be “eliminated” if he spoke up and that his phone was being monitored.
Asked why the plaintiff was bringing charges now, 15 years after the alleged harassment, Egan’s lawyer Jeff Herman denied that the timing had anything to do with the release of Singer’s latest movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, on May 23. The statute of limitations in Hawaii runs out on April 24, he noted. (The suits were originally filed in Hawaii rather than California because the Aloha State “temporarily suspends the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims brought in civil cases.”) And in a press conference Monday, Egan furnished more explanation: According to the Daily News, Egan told reporters that he’d found a trauma therapist and a lawyer he trusted to “protect” him, and he wanted to bring his tormentors to justice. "I wouldn't wish it on any of my worst enemies, to go through what I went through as a child," he said. Also, Egan says that when he and his mother originally brought the abuse to the L.A. Police Department in 1999, they did nothing.
Meanwhile, the accused men have vociferously denied any wrongdoing. “I just want everyone to know right now that the disgusting allegations made against me are COMPLETELY FALSE,” Neuman tweeted on Monday. “Also very shocking in that they don't just stretch the truth, they are whole-cloth lies with zero basis in reality or truth.” Singer’s attorney said in a statement that “The claims made against Bryan Singer are completely without merit.” He is threatening a counter-lawsuit. Goddard’s lawyer also pronounced the claims “without merit.”
This is not the first time Singer has been sued for alleged sexual misconduct. Jezebel reports:
Back in 1997, Singer had been named as a defendant—along with several other people—in a series of lawsuits filed by the parents of teenaged extras on the set of Apt Pupil, who said their children were coerced into getting naked on camera. A closer look at the complaints suggest that they were a sleazy lawyer's play for some easy money by working the parents up into a panic about Singer's sexuality. (He was referred in the court documents as "a known homosexual," as though it were an offense.) Singer actually had very little interaction with the extras, but the crew of the film were accused of "ogling, leering, and suggestive glances." The DA refused to press charges as no laws had been broken. The civil cases, with their homophobic overtones, were later thrown out.
According to the New York Times, Singer’s lawyer says he has proof that Singer was not in Hawaii at the time of the alleged events. Herman disputes this claim. As for Singer, according to BuzzFeed, the director will not be doing any press to support his new movie.
*Correction, April 22, 2014: This post originally misidentified the name of the TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.