The 12,square-foot Spanish Colonial, surrounded by immense columns and gaping bay windows, was previously owned by the rap mogul Suge Knight.
Inside was a home theater and more than one aquarium. Outside he could see a Ferrari and Lamborghini, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a hot tub big enough for a dozen people. To the neighbors, it might have seemed like just another Encino McMansion. To a year-old from Nebraska, it seemed like everything he thought Hollywood would be.
Egan was slim with dark hair, pale skin, and a bright smile. The son of divorced parents, he had been a popular kid who dreamed of being Tom Cruise. When, a year later, his manager told his mother, Bonnie Mound, the next step was a move to L. Mound rented an apartment in the Valley and enrolled him in a school designed to accommodate the schedules of working actors. David Geffen had showed interest in the company, socializing at the estate with other investors who, Egan was told, could be very helpful to him in his career.
There was Garth Ancier, who at 28 had been the first programmer of Fox television and who would go on to high-level positions at NBC and the WB network. There was Gary Goddard, the director and Broadway producer. And there was the director Bryan Singer, who had just made his name with The Usual Suspects and was about to join the A-list with the X-Men film franchise.
If you believe Michael Egan, he was groomed to submit to a life of abuse in what was essentially a pedophilic sex den. If you believe the men Egan accused—including Singer, who has been lying low since Egan filed a civil lawsuit against him in late April —he is a shakedown artist, contriving an abuse scandal, staging press conferences, and participating in an upcoming documentary, all in the hopes of a payout.
Michael Egan, age 15, in He is tan but rail-thin, and a certain jittery frailty comes through as he talks. But I still have fear. I had a dream last night that I was walking into a deposition and got shot. Everything he says happened to him has been roundly denied, and every allegation lacks documentation. He was almost certainly taken advantage of though by whom and to what extent has yet to be proved. Soon after he moved to L. On the audition circuit, he ran into the same teenage boys, all as beautiful as he was, at every casting.
What he needed were connections. Practically no one watched the show, but the company payroll was staggering: He said yes, and soon found himself embraced by the DEN family.
The estate, meanwhile, became famous for its parties, which were stocked with attractive young men. Egan remembers being pulled aside by Collins-Rector, Pierce, and Shackley for hourlong one-on-one lectures about how they had gaydar and they knew that Egan really was gay he says he is not.
He remembers the ban on the wearing of clothes in the pool or hot-tub areas. He also remembers the drugs—Valium, Vicodin, Xanax, Percocet, ecstasy, roofies. In the years to come, several other young men would come forward to talk about inappropriate behavior by the executives of DEN. I let them use me as a sex tool. I let those assholes do all those terrible things to me.
Collins-Rector denied those allegations but then settled the suit shortly before leaving the company. When [Egan] pulled his head out of the water in order to breathe, [Singer] demanded that he continue, which [Egan] refused. And, in one respect, it was. Suddenly, things were happening for him career-wise.
He was just so happy and having so much fun. I became a robot. I had such fear instilled in me I was a nonfunctioning person. I may have become more of a compliant victim, but I was never willing.
The word is commonly used in abuse cases with teenage victims who, unlike toddlers or tweens, may have some degree of agency when interacting sexually with adults. These cases tend to follow a pattern: The abusers engage in a seduction process that normalizes the behavior until the victims go along with it—still victims, but also compliant participants. Legally, if the victim is under the age of consent, proving sexual abuse should be relatively straightforward, but that gray area of compliance often clouds the issue, making juries and the public less sympathetic to claims of abuse.
Can you be exploited if you consent? What if you only say you were abused years later, after your career has dried up? Sexual abuse in Hollywood has long been the subject of speculation. Every few years, accusations surface in court, most of which fizzle with a plea. Then, the executives of DEN started pressuring Egan to become legally emancipated from his parents, which would allow him to work under adult work rules. His mother was offered stock in the company in exchange for permission; she declined.
By then, it was , and DEN was falling apart. He still might not have walked away without the help of two other DEN employees. Alex Burton and Mark Ryan were both older than Egan and determined to call the police. Bonnie Mound was shattered by the news. The lawyers for Singer and the other defendants call this evidence of a shakedown; Egan says now it was part of the effort to collect evidence. They did not name Singer, Ancier, Neuman, or Goddard.
He believed the high-profile targets had the resources to bury them in motions and counter-investigations. The absence of consequences seemed to confirm everything Collins-Rector and the others had said: They were powerful enough to get away with it; no one would ever believe the boys; everyone who might help him would be too afraid of retribution to come forward. He married a woman he met there in In , Ryan had an alcohol-withdrawal-induced stroke while trying to sober up; he never fully recovered and relies on a motorized wheelchair, barely able to communicate.
I was having flashes in my eyes, I was sweating like a maniac. Then he finally found another community to envelop him the way that DEN had—not just the recovery community, but the advocacy community for victims of sexual abuse. A production company was planning a documentary about sexual abuse in Hollywood, and they wanted to interview Egan. Egan suddenly felt like he was part of a movement.
The foundation referred Egan to a trauma therapist, whom he still sees. She explained to him how abusers groom their victims and wrangle compliance. Last fall, he and his mother went lawyer shopping. At least one prominent sexual-abuse litigator turned Egan down: Egan was 31 and had discovered his trauma as early as , as his old lawsuit clearly demonstrated. But he seemed to be the sort of risk-taker Egan needed—a lawyer willing to take on a bumpy case if it meant opening up a new area of litigation.
I visited with Herman at his office in June a week or so before I met Egan. The interview helped convince Herman that Egan had a case. Herman planned to get around the statute of limitations in California by filing a civil suit in Hawaii, which has a law allowing civil actions in abuse cases where the statute of limitations has expired.
The trips to Hawaii, therefore, became the centerpiece of the suit. Herman told me that he had been looking for a Hollywood case even before Egan came along. Days of Future Past was about to score one of the biggest opening weekends on record.
If these investigations pan out, I will be filing many more cases. Several published accounts, most quoting unnamed sources, described how Singer meets most of the younger men he dates through trusted friends who act as intermediaries—or, less charitably, procurers. Yet those who defended Singer painted a picture of the director as anything but predatory, saying he is powerful but cloistered, and, like many A-listers, dependent on friends to introduce him to new men, and that he is scrupulous about the age of his partners.
Still others noted how prominent gay men are also often easy targets for these kinds of allegations, which feed into ugly homophobic stereotypes about gay men and pedophilia. Now that the case hanged on the Hawaii trip, this statement was especially problematic.
You need to go away! This is going to get intense! The next day, Egan filed a police report for harassment. Still, between the attention and the coming documentary, Egan felt unburdened for the first time in years: His lawyer wanted him to settle with Singer, and Egan was appalled. The money bothered him, but the confidentiality demands of the settlement bothered him more. For Egan, being silenced by his own lawyer felt like a new betrayal.
In late August, adrift without a lawyer or most of the documents from his own case, Egan temporarily pulled the plug on his lawsuits. The court dismissed his claim against Singer without prejudice, which would allow him to refile should he find a new lawyer.
I just think to myself, How does he put his head on the pillow at night knowing what he did to me? The Amy Berg documentary, which he hoped would bolster his claims, has been slow to find distribution. But I think, Man, I should have listened to them. In late August, an NYPD spokesman confirmed to BuzzFeed that this spring, a man in his 20s filed a forcible-sexual-assault criminal complaint against Singer for an incident he said took place in New York in March of last year.
The complaint was filed just a few weeks after Egan went public, which could be an odd bit of vindication.