Jeff Herman, the Florida lawyer suing X-Men director Bryan Singer and other men allegedly involved in an underage Hollywood sex ring, is now speaking up on his own personal experiences with sexual assault that he says compel him to take on child molestation cases.
Herman, 54, has made a name for himself by taking in sex abuse cases against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash and now Singer. Never one to shy away from the media—he held yet another press conference on Monday to announce yet another lawsuit he's filing against Singer and Broadway producer Gary Goddard on behalf of an anonymous man who says he was assaulted by the two men when he was a teenager—Herman recently sat down for an interview with The Daily Beast during which he revealed that he, too, had been a victim of sexual assault.
"When I look back and think about why I am motivated about cases, a couple of things hit home for me," he said.
One of those is an incredibly vague incident from his childhood which—unlike the allegations against Singer, et al—could be interpreted in a number of ways.
When Jeff Herman sees a child held by their arms and legs it is, as he puts it, "an uncomfortable trigger. I have some vague memories of being very young, and there were two older girls holding me by my arms and legs, and they had cut my pants open." The lawyer has tried to remember more, but cannot.
Herman went on to describe another incident which took place when he was an adult in law school. He says he was assaulted in a men's room at a mall, and responded by beating the crap out of the "perp."
He went to the bathroom, which was crowded. He entered a stall. Suddenly next to him, coming from under the partition, was someone's hand. First he thought the person might have wanted to borrow some toilet paper. "I was trying to figure out what to do. The hand started to come up towards me, and scared the crap out of me. I stand up and it grabs my leg. Now I'm in shock. So I stand up on the toilet and the guy drops down on the floor and the hand is coming up to me."
Herman left the stall and went into the bathroom's main area. He looked at himself in the mirror, and wondered why he was afraid: "I was a big guy." He was waiting for the man to exit the neighboring stall, feeling ever more riled, when he decided to kick the door down.
"The guy was sitting on the toilet with his shirt off, pants down, masturbating. I just went at him. I just beat the crap out of him, really just to teach him a lesson or whatever. I ended up bringing him out in a headlock to find the police. People were screaming because there was blood everywhere, he was begging 'Let me go,' and I did and he just ran off."
Considering how coverage of Singer's "wild gay sex parties"—which tends to gawk at the stereotype of gay men as lascivious predators capable of corrupting children—can easily devolve into homophobia, it's difficult to not see Herman's disproportionate reaction to being touched by a gay man as questionable.