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Director Bryan Singer, who was sued last month in Hawaii by Michael Egan, III, for teen sex abuse that allegedly occurred there in 1999, filed a motion to dismiss the case Wednesday for lack of jurisdiction, quoting Egan’s own sworn deposition from 2003 to demonstrate that Singer was never in Hawaii with him and that Singer never sexually abused him.
The filing comes less than a week after defendant David Neuman filed a similar motion – one that also cited a separate 2003 statement 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.” Neuman also included declarations from numerous witnesses stating that he was not on the two 1999 Hawaii trips during which Egan alleges he was abused.
Both Singer’s and Neuman’s motions cite two passages in the deposition, which was taken in the course of a 2000 sex abuse lawsuit that Egan filed against three executives of the now-defunct Digital Entertainment Network, DEN. In one passage, Egan says he’s “never had any trips outside the continental U.S.” with the 2000 defendants, contradicting assertions in the 2014 that he did go on such trips (in groups that he asserted included both the 2000 defendants and the 2014 defendants).
In another passage, Egan says in reference to “this thing that happened to you” that no one other than the 2000 defendants had been “partaking in all this stuff.”
The 2014 lawsuits, filed in Hawaii federal court against Singer, Neuman and two others – Garth Ancier and Gary Goddard – cover much the same time period and some of the same geography as the 2000 suit, yet the prior suit did not name the 2014 defendants.
Egan’s current counsel, Jeff 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 last month. Indeed, Neuman, like the 2000 defendants, was a top DEN executive.
All four 2014 defendants have denied the allegations. They were each sued separately, but all of the suits are before the same judge, Susan Oki Mollway. Singer’s motion reserves the right to seek sanctions against Egan’s counsel, while Neuman has already served a sanctions motion.
Herman and his media director did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Singer’s motion to dismiss. However, Herman said last week, “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.”
UPDATED: Herman subsequently said in a statement, “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.”
Singer’s motion also includes a declaration in which Singer flatly denies all of the allegations, and states that he was in Canada for pre-production on X-Men during the late 1999 time period that two trips to Hawaii are alleged to have taken place, two with short side trips to New England and Los Angeles. Singer also says that he has reviewed “telephone records, credit card statements, sales receipts, check stubs and other [business] records” that substantiate his presence in those three places, but copies of the documents are not included with the motion. He also says that he has never resided in Hawaii, but says nothing about whether he might own property there.
Egan lives in Nevada and the four 2014 defendants in Los Angeles. The 2014 complaint premises the Hawaii court’s jurisdiction on the assertion that the alleged wrongful acts occurred there – but Egan’s sworn 2003 statements, which came to light last week, now cast doubt on the court’s jurisdiction and, indeed, on whether the allegations in the 2014 suit are true at all.
A hearing on Neuman’s motion to dismiss is scheduled for July 28. Egan’s response is not yet due, and it’s unknown what approach his counsel will take to the evidence that has surfaced.
Ultimately, Mollway has wide discretion in how to handle the motions: if she opts to decide them by simply reading the declarations and attachments, the legal burden of proof on Egan is quite light: thus, seemingly, if he declares that he was indeed in Hawaii with the 2014 defendants, that might suffice notwithstanding his apparently contradictory 2003 statements.
But the startling contrast between those statements and the new lawsuit, coupled with the white-hot publicity that Herman has sought and obtained in the case, may put pressure on the judge to resolve the jurisdictional matter more decisively, even if that inevitably means treading into an early resolution of the case itself.
If Mollway goes in this direction, she could order discovery – depositions, written questions, and exchange of documents – on the issue of jurisdiction, and could even demand that the witnesses appear before her in open court and tell their apparently conflicting stories while she looks them in the eye. Such a hearing would be unusual, but not beyond the judge’s power, and might be the only way to reliably determine just who was on the island of Oahu in 1999.
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