Hollywood Sex Abuse Accuser Invokes Fifth Amendment 400 Times in Deposition

Chris Godley
Michael Egan, flanked by his mother, Bonnie Mound, and lawyer Jeff Herman in 2014

Michael Egan wouldn’t stand behind his allegations of abuse.

Hollywood sex abuse accuser Michael Egan, placed under oath for the first time since filing his now-withdrawn lawsuits against four industry figures, declined to reiterate his allegations and instead asserted his Fifth Amendment rights more than 400 times in the course of a four-hour deposition, a transcript filed Wednesday in federal court shows.

The deposition is part of a countersuit by television executive Garth Ancier, who — along with director Bryan Singer and two others — was sued by Egan last year for molestation that had allegedly occurred in 1999. Those suits collapsed in the face of Egan’s prior contradictory testimony and were withdrawn. All four men had denied the allegations.

Ancier and another former defendant, David Neuman, were exonerated in June of this year when Egan’s former attorneys, Jeff Herman and Mark Gallgher, admitted that the teen sex abuse claims against them were “untrue and provably false” and paid a seven-figure settlement to Ancier and Neuman. There were no apologies to Singer or the fourth defendant, Gary Goddard, as neither of them filed countersuits, but Egan’s cases against all four were framed in virtually identical complaints and centered on the same purported events, timeframes, locations and supposed trip(s) to Hawaii.

That settlement ended the countersuits against the attorneys, but Ancier’s litigation against Egan continues. Egan brought multiple “emergency motions” in an attempt to avoid the deposition, which finally was held on June 23.

Among the hundreds of questions Egan refused to answer under examination by Jeffer Mangels attorney Louise Ann Fernandez were, “Did you lie in connection with your complaint in this case?” “Were you ever sexually abused by my client, Garth Ancier?” “Did my client Garth Ancier cause you damage of any kind?” and “Did you ever tell anyone that if all else failed you would go after gay Hollywood or words to that effect?” To all of those questions, he pled the Fifth Amendment.

Egan and his criminal attorney, Mark Foster, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Egan had spotlighted his lawsuits at a pair of white-hot press conferences in April 2014 at which he was flanked by his tearful mother and his then-lawyer. During those media spectacles, Herman intimated that there would be many more suits to come. Only one materialized; it, too, was ultimately withdrawn. Correspondence later uncovered between Herman and Gallagher included a list of Hollywood gay men to target, including billionaire David Geffen.

Asked whether his lawsuit against Ancier was “part of a scheme to basically shake down rich gay people because you knew they were afraid of publicity,” Egan again took the Fifth.

Although the Fifth Amendment is a shield in criminal prosecutions, its role in civil matters is different: in such cases, the court and jury have the right to draw adverse inferences if someone takes the Fifth. In a filing, Fernandez asked the court to do just that, and to deny a motion by Egan that attacks the settlement between his former attorneys and Ancier. Egan’s papers argue in essence that the settlement apportions too little blame to Herman and Gallagher.

Egan was also previously scolded for lying by the federal judge in the case and pled guilty earlier this year in connection with unrelated fraud charges in which the prosecutors said he lied and forged documents over a five-year period. He is awaiting sentencing. Court documents disclose that the FBI has collected over 121,000 pages of evidence on Egan.

In a separate civil case — a 2006 lawsuit Egan filed about a business dispute with his brother — Egan’s own attorney also came to distrust him.

Notwithstanding his history of untruths, Egan remains a central figure in a documentary on Hollywood teen sex abuse, An Open Secret. The film was announced at about the same time as Egan’s 2014 lawsuits, and the original version included the lawsuits as part of the movie. He remains a central character even in the final version. Producers Gabe Hoffman and Matthew Valentinas have defended Egan’s role in the movie even as they filed an arbitration against its director, Amy Berg, for allegedly delivering the movie late and incomplete, and failing to promote it; retaliated against Grease director Randal Kleiser, who appears briefly in the film; and got in a tussle with SAG-AFTRA over negative innuendo.

Asked by Fernandez whether he lied to Berg or the producers, lied in the documentary, or sought money or was promised a job for appearing, Egan repeatedly took the Fifth.

An Open Secret clearly and accurately states in the film that none of the victims received any monetary compensation for their participation, and we stand by that 100 percent,” Hoffman told The Hollywood Reporter. “That extends to any such forms inclusive of all those you mention.” He denied that anyone from his production entity, Esponda Films, had ever “discussed, promised, nor provided” money or a job to Egan.

“Not a chance,” said Berg when THR asked whether her own company, Disarming Films, had offered Egan a job.

Like Egan, attorney Herman has serious credibility issues, having been previously suspended by the Florida Bar for 18 months for dishonesty and barred for life from a federal court for a separate “credibility problem,” in the judge’s words.

Ancier’s efforts to hold Egan to account have traveled a long and difficult road. The countersuit was filed in June 2014, but Egan evaded service of process by Ancier for over a month before finally being served in a Las Vegas casino men’s room. In March 2015, Neuman filed a countersuit as well which, like Ancier’s, continues against Egan. In aggregate, hundreds of legal documents have been filed in the two cases and Egan’s four initial lawsuits, and millions of dollars in legal fees expended in response to his accusations.

Email: jh@jhandel.com

Sept. 2, 6:15 p.m. Updated with response from Gabe Hoffman.

Sept. 3, 1:45 a.m. Updated with response from Amy Berg and further response from Hoffman.