Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests hopes lawsuit filing encourages more potential victims to come forward
A support group for survivors of sexual abuse by religious figures weighed in Thursday on the sexual assault allegations against “X-Men” director Bryan Singer, saying Singer's Hollywood status should not be a factor in evaluating the case.
“As this lawsuit moves forward, we hope investigators and the public will not let the fame of director Bryan Singer cloud their judgment,” Joelle Casteix, Southern California Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said in a press release.
“It takes a great deal of courage for victims of child sexual abuse to come forward. They rarely do so lightly,” Casteix added.
As TheWrap first reported, Singer is being accused of drugging, raping, and “manipulating his power” in the entertainment industry to exploit a teenage boy in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, according to court documents.
The group was also critical of Singer supporters, who question accuser Michael Egan's decision to file the lawsuit now — more than 14 years after the abuse allegedly occurred — and just over a month before Singer's hotly-anticipated “X-Men: Days of Future Past” hits theaters.
“We're always disappointed when alleged predators question the timing of child sex abuse lawsuits,” Casteix wrote. “We as a society need to make it easier, not harder, for alleged victims of heinous sex crimes to step forward. Attacking an accuser's motives makes it harder for all victims to speak up.”
“One can defend oneself from allegations without attacking one's accusers,” she added. “That's the right and sensitive way to respond. And whenever a child sex case is filed, it should be addressed on its merits, not on the timing of it.”
Casteix said that the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Hawaii due to the state's temporary suspension of the statute of limitations for child sex crimes.
“We hope anyone else who may have been hurt by Singer will gain courage from this and speak up,” the group added.
The director's attorney, Martin Singer, told TheWrap that the allegations are “completely without merit.”
“We are very confident that Bryan will be vindicated in this absurd and defamatory lawsuit,” he said Wednesday. “It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan's new movie is about to open in a few weeks.”
SNAP originated 25 years ago to support victims of abuse by clergy and other religious denominations, focusing primarily on fighting sexual assault within those institutions. But the group has also been vocal advocates for victims in big cases, like the allegations brought against “Sesame Street” Elmo voice actor Kevin Clash in 2012.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.