Sex Abuse Case Against Gary Goddard Withdrawn
Plaintiff Michael Egan, III, who sued director Bryan Singer and three Hollywood executives alleging teen sex abuse in Hawaii in 1999, on Saturday voluntarily dismissed his suit against one of the men, Gary Goddard just days after dismissing a similar case against another executive, Garth Ancier. About three weeks ago, he dismissed a similar case against David Neuman, which leaves pending in Hawaii only Egan’s case against Singer.
However, the dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that he can refile – and, in fact, as The Hollywood Reporter previously reported, he has already filed four suits with similar language in Los Angeles federal court. Those suits are against John Doe defendants, but the allegations track much of the content of the Hawaii suits, and one of the defendants is identifiable (based on his job title) as Neuman.
On Friday, Ancier sued Egan and his attorneys, Jeffrey Herman of Florida and Michael Gallagher of Hawaii, for malicious prosecution and abuse of process, alleging that they aimed to “smear, harass and severely injure Mr. Ancier as part of an avowed and very public campaign by Mr. Egan’s counsel to troll for new clients who would enable them to shake down other entertainment industry executives with threats of sexual assault charges.”
Ancier’s suit notes that Herman was previously suspended from practice for eighteen months by the Florida Supreme Court for an ethical violation and that an Oregon District Court judge permanently barred Herman from appearing in that judge’s court as a sanction for Herman’s misrepresentations and other bad faith conduct.
The Hawaii lawsuits were brought by Herman and Egan amid white-hot publicity, with the suit against Singer in April announced at a press conference attended by television, radio, print and online outlets. That was followed a week later by a similar press conference in which suits against the other three defendants were announced.
Later, Herman filed a separate teen sex abuse suit in Los Angeles against Singer and Goddard on behalf of a different plaintiff, a British actor identified only as John Doe 117. Goddard filed a motion to dismiss that suit about two weeks ago. Singer has yet to file a response.
All four defendants have denied the allegations in the various suits. Neither Herman nor Goddard’s representatives had any comment on the dismissal
Herman has said that notwithstanding the Hawaii dismissals, Egan maintains that he was sexually abused by Ancier in Hawaii and Los Angeles. Herman also says that California law prohibits him from commenting on the identity of the Doe defendants until he receives court permission.
As previously reported by THR, 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.
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 a Doe defendant, 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 filed 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.
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 – now moot in light of Egan’s voluntary dismissal – also included copies of over 300 pages of receipts, theatre 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 – also moot at this point – 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.
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.
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.”