X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer has canceled his appearances this weekend at WonderCon Anaheim following a lawsuit that accuses him of drugging and raping a teenager in 1999.
BuzzFeed reports the filmmaker had been scheduled on Saturday to help promote the May 23 release of the Fox sequel with two hours of one-on-one interviews, as a press conference and press line. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg will now take his place.
Singer was sued Wednesday in Hawaii by Michael Egan III, who alleges that in 1999, when he was 17, the filmmaker gave him alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, Xanax and Rohypnol, and forcibly sodomized him at estates in Los Angeles and Kailua, Hawaii.
Appearing Thursday at a press conference with his attorney Jeff Herman, Egan said his mother first reported the abuse to the Los Angeles Police Department when he was 17, but “It basically fell on deaf ears and I basically buried it deep within me.” According to Variety, the 31-year-old plaintiff said he came forward now after he quit drinking two years ago and, more recently, entered a program for trauma therapy.
Although some, including Singer’s attorney, have questioned the timing of the lawsuit, given the fast-approaching premiere of X-Men: Days of Future Past, it’s important to point out that in April 2012 Hawaii amended its statute of limitations for child sexual abuse civil cases, opening a two-year window to file complaints involving incidents that occurred many years earlier. That opportunity ends April 24.
The filmmaker’s attorney, Marty Singer, called the accusations against his client “completely without merit” and “completely fabricated,” saying, “We look forward to our bringing a claim for malicious prosecution against Mr. Egan and his attorney after we prevail.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Egan was a plaintiff in a 2000 lawsuit against Marc Collins-Rector and Chad Shackley, hosts of a party in Encino, California, where he was allegedly assaulted, but he didn’t name Singer. According to TheWrap, the plaintiffs were granted a default judgment after Collins-Rector, Shackley and the third founder of the dot-com Digital Entertainment Network fled the country for Spain (Collins-Rector was eventually extradited back to the United States, where he pleaded guilty in to charges of transporting minors across state lines for sex).
Marty Singer claims that 2000 complaint proves his client’s innocence, telling TheWrap, “He filed a lawsuit with identical language and claims? That’s a smoking gun.”
“It’s clear that these statements are fabricated,” he elaborated to The Hollywood Reporter. “If Bryan had done anything wrong, he would have been included in the previous lawsuit.”
Fox, which is ramping up the promotional campaign for X-Men: Days of Future Past, issued its own statement about the accusations: “These are serious allegations, and they will be resolved in the appropriate forum. This is a personal matter, which Bryan Singer and his representatives are addressing separately.”