Photo: Jason LaVeris (Getty Images)

[This article discusses/contains descriptions of sexual assault]

It was back in October that Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer preemptively denied allegations made about him in what was said to be an upcoming Esquire exposé. “In today’s climate where people’s careers are harmed by mere accusations, what Esquire is attempting to do is a reckless disregard for the truth, making assumptions that are fictional and irresponsible,” he wrote at the time. Well, this morning a report emerged not in Esquire, but in The Atlantic, and its thorough investigation into Singer’s history of seducing and sexually assaulting underage boys comes backed by 12 months of investigative journalism and more than 50 sources. It also includes accounts from four men who have never spoken about their experiences with the director before.

“The accusations against Singer cover a spectrum,” write authors Alex French and Maximillian Potter. “Some of the alleged victims say they were seduced by the director while underage; others say they were raped. The victims we interviewed told us these experiences left them psychologically damaged, with substance-abuse problems, depression, and PTSD.”

One survivor recalls being molested on the set of Singer’s film Apt Pupil at the age of 13. Others recall consensual sex with Singer at Hollywood parties when they were 17 and 15, respectively, with each noting that Singer knew they were not of the age of consent at the time. The piece also touches on the culture of misconduct that ensconced Singer. Several of the survivors talk about being “passed around” like “party favors” for the adult men in Singer’s circle. One account suggests that the late actor Brad Renfro, who starred in Apt Pupil when he was a teenager, was also preyed upon by Singer as a child.

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“He would stick his hands down your pants without your consent,” one survivor recalls. “He was predatory in that he would ply people with alcohol and drugs and then have sex with them.”

The piece adds:

The portrait of Singer that emerges is of a troubled man who surrounded himself with vulnerable teenage boys, many of them estranged from their families. Their accounts suggest that Singer didn’t act alone; he was aided by friends and associates who brought him young men. And he was abetted, in a less direct way, by an industry in which a record of producing hits confers immense power: Many of the sources we interviewed insisted, out of fear of damaging their own career, that we withhold their name, even as they expressed dismay at the behavior they’d witnessed.

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Through his lawyer, Singer denies any sexual contact with underage boys. The lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, also disputes a number of details in the story and notes that Singer has never been arrested or charged with any crime.

His latest film, Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, was just nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Though he was fired from the film and replaced by Dexter Fletcher, he’s still credited as sole director due to DGA rules. Also, despite being virtually ignored by the film’s producers during awards season, he’s been celebrating the film’s success via his Instagram account.

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Read the full piece here.

UPDATE (11:06 a.m.): Singer has responded to the Atlantic piece in a statement sent to Deadline by a representative for the director. Read it below. 

“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism.

“That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”

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