John M. Becker

Hollywood Execs May Be Victims of Homophobic Lawyer

Filed By John M. Becker | July 09, 2014 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Bryan Singer, David Neuman, frivolous lawsuits, Garth Ancier, Gary Goddard, Herndon Graddick, Jeff Herman, Michael Egan, sexual abuse

In recent weeks, four high-profile Hollywood executives -- director Bryan Singer, former NBC executive Garth Ancier, former Disney executive David Neuman, and Broadway producer Gary Goddard -- were slapped with sexual abuse lawsuits. The filings, which originated from attorney Jeff Herman, were full of lurid allegations, claiming that the men engaged in the serial rape of teenage men at Hollywood sex parties in 1999.

character-assassination.jpgThe salacious allegations made headlines across the nation, but the cases abruptly collapsed after the defendants produced evidence proving that they could not have been at the scene at the time Herman's client Michael Egan claimed the assaults had taken place, and that Egan had testified in a 2003 lawsuit that he'd never traveled outside the continental United States.

Only the lawsuit against Singer remains, and that case may be dismissed as well. Given this turn of events, attention is now turning to Herman, who is facing accusations of homophobic character assassination. The Wrap reports:

Attorney Jeff Herman, who filed the suits on behalf of Michael Egan in Hawaii, raised eyebrows from the start by calling a news conference at the Four Seasons Los Angeles hotel to announce the initial lawsuit filed against director Bryan Singer. The lawsuit seemed timed for maximum media impact, just ahead of the opening of the Singer's new "X-Men" movie in April.

The allegations were horrific: that Singer had serially raped a teenaged Egan while the young man was still a minor, promising him roles in his movies. And it was followed by lawsuits against the former Hollywood and Broadway executives...

From the start the flimsiness of the evidence in the Hawaii cases was disturbing to many, but so were the accusations which, if true, suggested a cabal of gay producers and movie executives preying on innocent teen boys.

More, after the break.

Herndon Graddick, the former president of GLAAD and a friend of Neuman's, blasted Herman, telling The Wrap:

"The notion of what he's proposing -- a gay Hollywood sex ring that trafficked in rape of minors, is a homophobic fantasy. This is the oldest homophobic trope in the book, that gay people tolerate abuse of minors. I can't believe there has ever been a group of gay men in Hollywood standing around watching children be raped. I find that absolutely ludicrous."

Graddick added that as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Herman's frivolous and malicious lawsuits are especially egregious:

"I am a survivor of child abuse. I will say that for Michael Egan to level these false charges suggesting he was a victim of abuse that didn't occur is an affront to every abuse victim seeking justice. It makes it harder for real abuse victims to seek justice."

simpsons-frivolous-lawsuits.jpgGary Frischer, a class action lawsuit consultant and former colleague of Herman's, said the pattern -- a salacious accusation followed by its abrupt collapse and the dismissal of the case -- is a disturbing one: "As a media expert in this field, it looks like something went astray. And he's hanging people's reputations out to dry."

Attorney Patty Glaser, who represents Neuman, agrees and says she intends to sue Herman for malicious prosecution. But even if she succeeds, Frischer warns, the damage to her client's reputation may be permanent: "There will always be a question in people's minds -- did he or didn't he do it -- even if an individual clears his name. There's always a question."

If it turns out that Jeff Herman is indeed filing frivolous lawsuits that exploit the basest of anti-gay stereotypes in order to falsely slander people's reputations, it's nothing short of abominable. Here's hoping that whatever the truth holds, it quickly comes out and justice is swiftly served.

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