Today the Atlantic published a lengthy story about allegations of sexual misconduct involving director Bryan Singer. Singer is best known for his breakout film The Usual Suspects and for directing several of the X-Men movies. His most recent project was Bohemian Rhapsody, but he was fired before he had finished shooting it.
The Atlantic story isn’t just a rehash of prior allegations which have circulated for years. The authors interviewed 50 people for the piece including four men who had never told their stories publicly before. Not all of the stories involve non-consensual sex, but several of them involve teens who were years below the California age of consent at the time, i.e. 13 and 15-year-old boys. For instance, Singer met Victor Valdovinos when the production of his second film, Apt Pupil, took over a Middle School near Los Angeles.
Late one afternoon, after basketball practice, Valdovinos stopped in an empty restroom. While standing at a urinal, he says, he felt a presence behind him. He turned and saw a bespectacled man in his early 30s. It was Bryan Singer. 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.”…
After being dropped off by his father one morning, he was directed to the locker room. Shooting was about to begin. He remembers that the locker room had been divided—a screen here and lights over there. A crew member gave him a towel and told him to disrobe completely and wrap the towel around his waist. He was 13 years old. He hadn’t yet had his first kiss.
“I’m hanging out,” Valdovinos says. “All of a sudden, Bryan comes in. He goes, ‘Hey! How are you?’ Real cheerful. And I’m like, ‘Hi.’ I can’t remember his exact words, but he was kind of just saying ‘Come back here.’ He kind of directs me; he kind of grabs me; and he takes us to the back area, which was kind of closed off. Like, this is the whole locker room”—Valdovinos gestures to suggest the space—“they’re doing their stuff over there, and I was back here, in the towel, with no shirt and no clothes on, sitting on one of the locker-room benches. Bryan’s like, ‘Just hang out here. It’s going to be all day. Don’t worry.” Singer left, and Valdovinos waited for what seemed like hours.
Eventually, he says, Singer came back and made small talk. How are you doing? Do you need anything? “Every time he had a chance—three times—he would go back there … He was always touching my chest.” Finally, according to Valdovinos, Singer reached through the towel flaps and “grabbed my genitals and started masturbating it.” The director also “rubbed his front part on me,” Valdovinos alleges. “He did it all with this smile.” Valdovinos says that Singer told him, “You’re so good-looking … I really want to work with you … I have a nice Ferrari … I’m going to take care of you.”
“I was frozen. Speechless,” Valdovinos continues. “He came back to where I was in the locker room throughout the day to molest me.” (Three sources confirmed that Singer did drive a Ferrari at the time, and we were able to verify Valdovinos’s description of how the set was arranged and of certain people he says he met there. His father told us he remembers dropping him off for the filming and thinking that perhaps his son would become an actor. Singer’s lawyer said that he could find no record of Valdovinos’s having been an extra and questioned why Valdovinos was not able to produce a pay stub or other documentation.)
Not surprisingly, Valdovinos’ life went into a tailspin. He went from being an A and B student to getting his girlfriend pregnant at 16 and dropping out of high school for six months. He got involved with drugs and wound up in jail for domestic battery. He says of his own downfall, “I was trying to prove that I was a man.”
In the late 90s Singer invested in a new production company which was intended to create stories for gay teens and young adults. The venture was led by Marc Collins-Rector and his boyfriend Chad Shackley who owned a mansion in Encino, dubbed the M&C Estate, which became the site of infamous pool parties. Singer attended these parties and met some of the teen boys that Collins-Rector was bringing into the house.
Andy began taking all-expenses-paid trips to visit Collins-Rector. One night Andy, now 15, got to talking with Singer, who led him away from the other men in the living room of the Benedict Canyon mansion and up a flight of stairs. “First room on the right, top of the stairs,” Andy says definitively, as if making the walk all over again. (His description of the mansion matches its layout, based on photos that were posted online when it was for sale.) Inside was a waterbed. He says he and Singer had talked about what grade he was in. “Bryan knew I was 15,” he says. Singer would have been about 31.
As Andy tells it, he and Singer weren’t alone in the bedroom. Singer had brought along Brad Renfro—the star of Apt Pupil, who was now 15. (According to two sources, Singer sometimes referred to Renfro as his boyfriend.) Renfro sat sheepishly next to the waterbed, looking unsure of what to do while Singer and Andy fooled around. Clothes came off, but Renfro didn’t move. “I remember wanting Brad to join in,” Andy says. “I don’t think Brad was gay, or even bi. I think he was going with the flow. We talked about it. Like me, he looked around at all of the things these guys had, all of the money. Maybe he thought the guys were going to do things for him.” (Renfro died of a drug overdose in 2008, at the age of 25.)
Andy turned to prostitution before he had finished high school, became addicted to drugs, did porn films and says he begged Singer for money on a couple of occasions to feed his Meth habit. He now works a basic job outside of LA and seems to have put his life back together.
In 2000, Marc Collins-Rector was indicted for transporting minors across state lines for sex. He fled the country but was eventually arrested in Spain where he was found to be in possession of thousands of child porn images. He spent a year in jail in Spain and was extradited back to the U.S. where he pleaded guilty to transporting minors for sex. He is now a registered sex-offender.
Bryan Singer has denied all of the accusations. He released a brief statement today in response to the Atlantic story which accuses the authors (there are two) of producing a “homophobic smear piece.”
2. Bryan Singer’s statement in response to the Atlantic investigation. pic.twitter.com/kx98H6lAcG
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 23, 2019
I don’t really see how the piece is homophobic. It describes situations which would be just as illegal and troubling if Singer were straight and the people involved had been teen girls. Even some of the teens who considered the sex consensual at the time have come to feel they were taken advantage of by the much older director. For instance, Eric claims he slept with Singer at the M & C Estate when he was 17 and Singer was 31 years old. Their relationship continued on and off for about five years. Singer eventually helped him get a job in Hollywood and today’s he’s a production executive. But he tells the Atlantic he has also spent years in therapy going over his time at the house 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.”