Update, January 23, 12:32 p.m. ET: In a statement on Wednesday, Singer denied the details of the exposé, labeling it a “homophobic smear piece.” “It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity,” he said. “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.”
In an exposé published by The Atlantic on Wednesday morning, four men say that filmmaker Bryan Singer sexually assaulted them while they were underage; a fifth says that Singer assaulted him when he was 17 or 18. The investigation by Alex French and Maximillian Potter spanned 12 months, as the journalists spoke with more than 50 sources. Four of the men who came forward—three of whom were referred to pseudonymously as Eric, Ben, and Andy—had not shared their experiences with reporters before.
All five men say that Singer assaulted them in the late ’90s. Victor Valdovinos, who said he was an extra on Singer’s movie Apt Pupil while it was filming in 1997, said he was asked to strip naked and wear a towel throughout the day on set. Valdovinos, who was 13 at the time, said Singer repeatedly molested him throughout the day. “[He] grabbed my genitals and started masturbating it,” Valdovinos said.
Andy said that in 1997, when he was 15, Singer assaulted him at the estate of Marc Collins-Rector, founder of failed Hollywood startup Digital Entertainment Network and a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2004 to transporting minors across state lines for sex. Andy also said the late actor Brad Renfro—who starred in Apt Pupil and was 15 at the time—was in the bedroom. The Atlantic reported that the director referred to Renfro as his “boyfriend.”
Eric said he had an on-and-off, five-year sexual relationship with Singer that began in 1997, when he was 17—adding that he told the director his age before their first sexual encounter. Eric, who currently works as an executive at a production company, said he’s met other men with similar stories about the director. “There’s a bunch of us,” he said. “It’s like, ‘You were one of Singer’s boys? Me too.’”
Ben said he met Singer at one of the director’s parties in the late ’90s, when he was 17 or 18, and that Singer coerced him into oral penetration. “He was predatory in that he would ply people with alcohol and drugs and then have sex with them,” he added. Singer’s legal representative disputed details of the Atlantic report and denied that the director has a preference for underage men.
In 2017, Singer denied an account that he raped Cesar Sanchez-Guzman in 2003, when Sanchez-Guzman was 17 years old, on a yacht on which many other teenage boys were present. Sanchez-Guzman told The Atlantic that after the assault “Bryan approached me wearing this grotesque smile” and told Sanchez-Guzman that nobody was going to believe him. The legal case between Sanchez-Guzman and the director is pending.
Singer most recently directed the Golden Globe–winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody—though he was fired from the production before filming ended, after reports of escalating tensions between the director and star Rami Malek and other incidences of unprofessional behavior, like repeatedly failing to show up to set. He posted to his Instagram in October that Esquire intended to publish a negative story about him. “In today’s climate where people’s careers are being harmed by mere accusations, what Esquire is attempting to do is a reckless disregard for the truth, making assumptions that are fictional and irresponsible,” the director wrote. (The cowriters for The Atlantic piece both work for Esquire.)
Despite leaving the production early, Singer remains the sole credited director for Bohemian Rhapsody, which was nominated for five Oscars on Tuesday—including Best Picture. Singer’s next film is slated to be a big-screen adaptation of the comic series Red Sonja, for which the director is being paid a reported $10 million. In Red Sonja, The Atlantic’s exposé noted, the protagonist is a survivor of sexual assault.