Nick Carter is countersuing two women who’ve accused the Backstreet Boys singer of sexual assault, claiming they took advantage of the #MeToo movement to ruin his reputation.
Carter, 43, is suing Shannon Ruth, who filed a sexual battery lawsuit against Carter in December 2022. She alleges that she was 17 when Carter assaulted her after a concert in Tacoma, Washington, and that Carter infected her with HPV after he forced himself on her. In the suit, Carter also named Melissa Schuman, a former teen pop star with the girl group Dream, who in 2017 said Carter raped her in the early 2000s. (In 2018, Los Angeles prosecutors declined to charge Carter in the case brought forward by Schuman.)
The countersuit reportedly refers to the women as “opportunists,” and claims that they took advantage of the #MeToo movement as part of a five-year conspiracy to “defame and vilify Carter and otherwise ruin his reputation for the purposes of garnering attention and fame and/or extorting money from Carter.” According to the filing, Carter lost $2.3 million in earnings following the allegations.
“Carter will not allow himself to be smeared in this way,” the countersuit reportedly says. “Protecting one’s reputation and name by calling a liar a liar is not victim blaming or bullying. It is simply telling the truth.”
According to reports, the suit also claims that Ruth’s reports to Tacoma police are full of “discrepancies and inconsistencies,” and that Schuman and her father “coaxed” Ruth to “inflate” her allegations against Carter.
“Why should Nick Carter be believed with his long history of abusing females. A jury will weigh the evidence and decide,” Mark Boskovich, Ruth's attorney, told TMZ.
Carter isn’t the first celebrity to sue women who’ve accused him of assault. Singer Marilyn Manson, who was accused this week of grooming and sexually assaulting a minor, filed a defamation suit against his ex-girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood after she alleged horrific abuse, including that Manson forced her to drink his blood, raped her while she slept, and shocked her genitals. This week, former boxer George Foreman filed a countersuit against a sexual abuse accuser, and last year, Johnny Depp won his defamation suit against ex-wife Amber Heard. The trial between Depp and Heard became a televised event viewed by millions around the world, and a hotbed of misogyny.
Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump has threatened to sue his rape accuser, writer E Jean Carroll. Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in a department store changing room in the 1990s, filed defamation suits against Trump after he denied the rape accusations by saying she is not “his type.” (Trump tried and failed to get the courts to dismiss those defamation suits). He also publicly called the allegations a “hoax,” “con job,” and “complete scam.” Last month unsealed testimony revealed Trump called Carroll a “nut job,” and falsely claimed she enjoyed being sexually assaulted.
In the wake of the Depp-Heard case, experts warned that the threat of legal action, especially highly publicized cases, can silence survivors of abuse.
Defamation suits “silence quite effectively all discussion around sexual violence, gendered violence,” Mandi Gray, a University of Calgary researcher and gender justice expert, told VICE News. They “send a message to others who are considering reporting [violence] or speaking about it in general terms.”
Non-disclosure agreements are yet another lever often used by powerful men to silence accusers. Brad Pitt tried to get his former spouse, Angelina Jolie, to sign a non-disclosure agreement—another common practice–that would prevent her from speaking out about alleged abuse. Convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein compelled his employees and accusers in Hollywood to sign NDAs, and his former assistant Zelda Perkins actually broke her NDA in order to speak out against him. When Gretchen Carlson sued the late and disgraced former Fox News network chief Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, she had to sign an NDA as part of her settlement.
Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in the U.S., and about 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Fear of retaliation is the most common reason sexual assault survivors choose not to report the abuse they experience.
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