A lawyer for X-Men director Bryan Singer has dismissed as “fabricated” and absurd claims that the filmmaker sexually assaulted a former child model and aspiring teenage actor.
The lawyer also pledged to counter-sue the 31-year-old alleged victim, who gave details of his allegations dating from 15 years ago at a Beverly Hills press conference.
Flanked by his own lawyer, Michael Egan III said on Thursday the director forced him to have sex at parties in California and Hawaii in the late 1990s, when he was 17 years old.
“You were like a piece of meat to these people, they would pass you around between them” at the parties, said Egan, calling his attackers “evil”.
But Singer’s lawyer dismissed the “completely fabricated” claims, adding: “We look forward to our bringing a claim for malicious prosecution against Mr Egan and his lawyer after we prevail.”
The lawsuit is “an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan’s new movie is about to open in a few weeks”, said lawyer Marty Singer, who is not related to the director.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman is due out on May 23 in the US, and across the world on that date or a few days before.
In the lawsuit, Egan alleged that Singer “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”.
He suffered “catastrophic psychological and emotional injuries” because of the abuse, added the 13-page legal document filed on Wednesday in Hawaii.
Egan, who grew up in Nebraska, moved first to New York, where he did some modelling, and then to Los Angeles, where he was invited to parties.
“I had drugs put in drinks, I had liquor poured down my throat,” Egan said, saying the abuse happened in one particular house. “I was raped numerous times in that house, by numerous individuals.”
He recalled one time when a gun was put in his mouth. “As a child, I was scared to death,” Egan said.
Egan, now 31, said he told his mother about the abuse at the time and that she went to the police about it.
The LA Police Department brought in an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but the case was not pursued.
“It fell on deaf ears,” Egan told reporters at the press conference.
“Then I basically buried it in me, as deep as I possibly could, and I developed a problem with drinking to numb that pain for years.”
He began going to trauma therapy 11 months ago and then sought legal action.
His lawyer, Jeff Herman, denied the timing of the lawsuit was linked to the upcoming X-Men film release, saying it was due to a legal “window” in Hawaii that meant he has to file before April 24.
And Herman – who specialises in sex abuse cases, including representing victims of Catholic clergy in the US – said he will likely file another three or four lawsuits.
“Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children,” he said.
“This is the first of many cases I will be filing to give these victims a voice and to expose the issue.”