Sex Abuse Case Against Garth Ancier Withdrawn

Garth Ancier
Garth Ancier
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Plaintiff Michael Egan, III, who sued director Bryan Singer and three Hollywood executives alleging teen sex abuse in Hawaii in 1999, has voluntarily dismissed his suit against one of the men, Garth Ancier. However, the dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that he can refile — and, in fact, when he dismissed a similar case against David Neuman about three weeks ago, Egan did refile just two days later.

In addition, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Egan sued three John Doe defendants in Los Angeles federal court Friday. Egan’s lawyer, Jeff Herman, said that under California law, he could not comment on the identity of the defendants unless and until authorized by the court. Copies of the complaints were not available online.

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“We are pleased the case filed in Hawaii against Mr. Ancier has been dropped given it had no merit whatsoever,” said Ancier’s attorney, Louise Ann Fernandez of Jeffer, Mangels. “Mr. Ancier was undeserving of the stain to his reputation caused by the plaintiff’s reckless complaint, which was grounded in lies. We are equally confident that just as this case imploded when the facts became known, any further legal maneuvers or gimmicks will fail because unsupported statements, falsehoods and character smears have no place in any court.”

Similar suits by Egan in Hawaii against Singer and executive Gary Goddard remain pending, as do motions to dismiss.

In related news, counsel for Goddard filed a motion to dismiss last week in a separate Los Angeles teen sex abuse suit brought by Herman on behalf of a different plaintiff, a British actor identified only as John Doe 117. Goddard’s motion alleges that the sexual conduct, even if true, is not actionable for various reasons, including that it occurred elsewhere — in London — and because the age of consent in the U.K. is 16. Singer, also a defendant in that suit, has yet to file a response.

All four defendants have denied the allegations in the various suits.

Background

The Hawaii cases ran into turbulent waters in May when Neuman filed a motion to dismiss that attached a 2003 declaration in which Egan said he’d “never had any kind of physical contact” with Neuman other than non-sexual social contact and that Neuman “never acted improperly.” In addition, Egan’s 2003 deposition surfaced, in which he said he’d never been outside the continental U.S. and that no one other than three named individuals had sexually abused him. Neuman was not one of the three. A sanctions motion served by Neuman’s counsel may have underscored the apparent defects in the suit and led to the dismissal.

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In the Los Angeles suit against Neuman, Egan asserts that he signed the 2003 declaration “under fear, threats, and duress.” The Los Angeles suit doesn’t address the deposition, and makes no mention of trips to Hawaii. The suit was filed against “John Doe,” but the suit identifies Doe as the then-president of the now-defunct Digital Entertainment Network, DEN — which Neuman was — and discusses the 2003 declaration.

The Hawaii suit benefited from a two-year window in the statute of limitations that allowed otherwise stale claims to be brought. California has no such window, but the Los Angeles suit against Neuman argues that the claims are nonetheless timely because Neuman allegedly had a duty to notify Egan of the legal statute of limitations and failed to do so, and because Egan repressed his memory of the abuse he alleges was inflicted by Neuman.

Egan was represented by counsel starting in 2000 but nonetheless never sued Neuman until 2014, even though he did sue three other DEN executives in 2000 for alleged sexual abuse. As recently as 2011, Egan renewed the judgment in the 2000 case.

The motions to dismiss pending in Hawaii cite two passages in Egan’s deposition, which was taken in the course of the 2000 sex abuse lawsuit that he and two others filed against three DEN executives, but not Neuman. In one section, Egan says he’s “never had any trips outside the continental U.S.” with the 2000 defendants, contradicting assertions in the 2014 suits that he did go on such trips, in groups that he asserted included both the 2000 defendants and the 2014 defendants.

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Elsewhere, Egan says, in response to a question about “this thing that happened to you,” that no one other than the 2000 defendants had been “partaking in all this stuff.”

Goddard’s motion also included copies of over 300 pages of receipts, theater and movie ticket stubs, and handwritten calendar pages intended to document his absence from Hawaii during the three-month time period at issue.

Ancier’s filing — now moot in light of Egan’s voluntary dismissal — included portions of a different deposition in the 2000 case, in which a potential witness said that Egan and a co-plaintiff offered to give the witness half of any recovery from the lawsuit. The witness — Melvin Berman, a personal chef to one of the 2000 suit defendants — said in the deposition that he didn’t believe that Egan and the other plaintiff had actually been abused.

Accompanying his motion to dismiss, Ancier included declarations from his then-assistant and others that he didn’t travel to Hawaii during the period in question, and that Egan didn’t either. Ancier also said that he had reviewed his calendar entries, credit card statements, expense reports, telephone records and travel-related documents, and they “show that there is no way he could have been in Hawaii” as alleged in the complaint.

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Singer also filed a motion for summary judgment, an additional procedural move attacking the suit several weeks after his motion to dismiss. It includes declarations from various people associated with DEN asserting that neither Singer nor Egan were on the two alleged trips to Hawaii.

The 2014 lawsuits filed in Hawaii federal court — as well as the suit filed against Neuman in Los Angeles federal court — cover much the same time period and geography as the 2000 suit, yet the prior suit did not name or even mention the 2014 defendants.

Herman has never offered an explanation of the omission despite publicly promising to obtain one. Nor has Egan’s counsel in the 2000 suit, who represented him as recently as 2011, provided any explanation as to why the 2000 suit didn’t name the four men whom Egan sued in April.

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Herman said previously, “Mike maintains that he was in Hawaii with the defendants and his mother maintains that she spoke to [2000 suit defendant] Chad Shackley and authorized him to take Mike to Hawaii on at least two occasions.”

In response to the Singer motion to dismiss, Herman said, “I do have a response, but I am restricted in that I can only talk about what is in the court record. Many of the things being reported are being taken out of context or you’re only hearing one side of the story. At the appropriate time and in the appropriate venue, we will respond.”

Email: jh@jhandel.com
Twitter: @jhandel

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