Just weeks after Bohemian Rhapsody won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, and just one day after it was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, multiple men have shared their experiences of alleged sexual assault at the hands of the film’s ousted director, Bryan Singer, according to a new report from the Atlantic.
Through his lawyer, Singer has categorically denied having sex with or having a preference for underage men. The new report also describes how Singer’s alleged victims’ experiences led to them engaging in more risk-taking behavior, in some cases leading to substance abuse, dropping out of school, and jail time. (Not every source used their real name; some of the men interviewed by the Atlantic were given pseudonyms.)
Victor Valdovinos says he met Singer in 1997, at his middle school located outside of Los Angeles, where Singer, who had just directed the award-winning The Usual Suspects, was filming a scene for Apt Pupil. Valdovinos was 13 years old, and remembers Singer appearing behind him at the urinal in his school bathroom:
He looked Valdovinos over; Valdovinos remembers him saying, “You’re so good-looking. What are you doing tomorrow? Maybe I could have somebody contact you about putting you in this movie.”
Valdovinos claims that Singer molested him repeatedly in the school’s locker room, on a day when Valdovinos came to school and was instructed to disrobe and wear a towel around his waist. (The Apt Pupil scene shot at the school featured one of the main characters showering at the gym, and would result in a series of lawsuits after parents claimed their children were filmed naked without their consent.) Valdovinos never told anyone: “It was embarrassing. I didn’t want anyone to know. So I locked it away.” In the years that followed, he would impregnate his girlfriend at the age of 16, drop out of school before eventually graduating, and have a long history of failed jobs and relationships, as well as run-ins with the law.
Valdovinos began to question how his life might have gone differently if not for that locker-room encounter with Singer. “What if he never did this to me—would I be a different person? Would I be more successful? Would I be married?” As he watched the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfold, Valdovinos thought, “Me too—only I was a kid.”
Singer said through his attorney that he does not know who Valdovinos is.
Other men say they met Singer at his parties, which one source remembers looking like “a high-school party” because of all the young boys who attended. Ben says he met Singer soon after he turned 16 years old, and had oral sex with him when he was 17 or 18. Ben describes being seduced by Singer at a young age, but stops short of calling his experience rape:
“He would stick his hands down your pants without your consent,” Ben recalls. “He was predatory in that he would ply people with alcohol and drugs and then have sex with them.” But, at least in Ben’s experience, “it wasn’t a hold-you-down-and-rape-you situation.”
Andy also recalls meeting and having sex with Singer in 1997. Andy says Singer, who would have been 31 at the time, knew he was 15 years old. Another man, Eric, describes meeting Singer at one of his parties at the age of 17, and having sex that night. He also claims Singer knew about his age.
Eric, who went on to work in the film industry, claims that Singer’s parties were well-known around Hollywood for their attendance by underage boys, and that he is sometimes asked about it:
Eric says he’s been asked whether he knows Singer, whether he was one of “those boys” at the pool parties. “I never want people to think of me as a victim, so I always put up the front of ‘I’m good. I was in charge.’ But I spent a decade in therapy trying to figure out if what happened was bad or not bad. And if it was bad, was it my fault? What I’ve decided is that adults are supposed to look out for kids.”
Eric also says that, through attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he has met “a bunch of” other men with “their own stories about Singer.”
Read the full report here.
Update, 12:16 p.m.: Bryan Singer has responded to the allegations reported in the Atlantic’s piece in a statement sent to Deadline through a representative, and recalled that Esquire previously investigated his behavior for a story that was ultimately not published. Per Deadline:
In a message sent to us by a representative, the director said, “The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism.
“That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic,” continued the statement. “It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”
Update, 1:58 p.m.: The writers of the Atlantic piece have responded to Bryan Singer’s statement: