The Seattle man says he was 17 when he was assaulted on a yacht on Lake Washington. Singer denies the allegations and “will vehemently defend this lawsuit to the very end,” according to a statement from his attorney.
A Seattle man who this week sued Hollywood director Bryan Singer for allegedly sexually assaulting him during a yacht party on Lake Washington 14 years ago said Friday he’s coming forward now so that “Singer is held accountable for his actions.”
Cesar Sanchez-Guzman says he was 17 and had just come out as gay to friends when he met Singer on the yacht of a wealthy technology investor in 2003.
“I didn’t know who he was or what his occupation was,” Sanchez-Guzman said of Singer during a telephone interview with The Seattle Times. “Bryan flirtatiously approached me, introduced himself and asked me if I’d been on the yacht before. I told him no, this was my first time. I was excited.”
If you need help
News reports of sexual-assault allegations could be a trigger for victims and survivors of abuse. Here are some resources:
• The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center offers a 24-hour resource line (888-998-6423). Additionally, KCSARC can help connect people with therapy, legal advocates and family services (kcsarc.org/gethelp).
• UW Medicine’s Center for Sexual Assault & Traumatic Stress (depts.washington.edu/hcsats) offers resources, including counseling and medical care. For immediate help, call 206-744-1600.
• For readers outside King County, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs lists 38 Washington state providers that offer free services. (wcsap.org/find-help)
• RAINN: Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network provides a free, confidential hotline (800-656-4673) and online chat (hotline.rainn.org) with trained staff members.
Singer offered to give him a tour, Sanchez-Guzman said, and eventually escorted him to the boat’s master bedroom. It was there, according the lawsuit, that Singer allegedly sexually assaulted Sanchez-Guzman.
“Later, Bryan Singer approached Cesar and told him that he was a producer in Hollywood and that he could help Cesar get into acting as long as Cesar never said anything about the incident,” the lawsuit, filed Thursday in King County Superior Court, alleges. “He then told Cesar that no one would believe him if he ever reported the incident, and that he could hire people who are capable of ruining someone’s reputation.”
Allegations of sexual misconductSince The New York Times published allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, multiple men in Hollywood, politics and media have faced allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to rape. Here's a list of some of the people who have been accused.
How have sexual harassment and the #MeToo conversation affected you?We want to hear your thoughts. Whether you work in tech, government, media, finance, the arts or another field, has sexual harassment or sexism affected you or the culture you work in? Are you becoming more cautious with co-workers or other people in your life?
Singer, 52, a movie producer, director and writer with credits dating to 1988, is known for directing such films as “The Usual Suspects,” “X-Men” and “Superman Returns.” He is the latest in a wave of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against powerful men in the entertainment industry, media and politics that began in October with accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
In a statement Friday, Singer’s Los Angeles-based attorney, Andrew Brettler, said his client “categorically denies these allegations and will vehemently defend this lawsuit to the very end.”
Brettler’s statement suggested Sanchez-Guzman’s lawsuit was financially motivated, noting that Singer’s accuser “filed for bankruptcy only a few years ago, (but) he failed to disclose this alleged claim when he was supposed to identify all of his assets …”
Sanchez-Guzman, 31, who is being represented by attorneys in Seattle and Miami, said he currently lives in Seattle and works in retail management. At the time of the incident in 2003, he said, he and his family had recently moved from Portland to Burien, where he attended Evergreen High School.
Shortly after coming out to friends, Sanchez-Guzman said he met Lester Waters, a wealthy tech investor who often hosted parties at his Capitol Hill home. Sanchez-Guzman said he attended several parties at Waters’ home, including one the night before the 2003 yacht party at which Singer allegedly assaulted him.
Sanchez-Guzman said he didn’t report the incident to Seattle police at the time because he didn’t want his family to find out he was gay.
“That was not an option for me,” he said of filing a police report. “ … My family had a lot of Christian values, and if I had reported it, it would be a matter of me having to come out to my family.”
Sanchez-Guzman said he first revealed he was gay to a family member last summer.
Dan Ellis, one of Sanchez-Guzman’s attorneys in Miami, called his client’s decision to make his allegations public now a courageous choice.
“What I can say is I’m really proud of Cesar coming forward,” Ellis said. “It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Two other men previously have accused Singer of sexual assault.
An anonymous British man claimed the director fondled him as a 17-year-old in 2006 before trying to force him into having sex, The Washington Post reported. The same accuser also alleged abuse by Hollywood executive Gary Goddard, who has since been accused of molestation by actor Anthony Edwards and another former child actor.
Singer and Goddard both denied the allegations, and the man eventually voluntarily dismissed the case, according to The Post.
Former child actor and model Michael Egan also sued Singer in 2014, claiming the director abused him when he was a teenager during parties in California and Hawaii, according to The New York Times.
Egan’s lawsuit fell apart after he refused to sign a $100,000 settlement and his Miami lawyer, Jeffrey Herman, dropped him as a client, The Times reported.
Brettler, Singer’s attorney, noted Herman is now one of the lawyers representing Sanchez-Guzman.
Herman eventually paid a settlement and apologized to two of the executives accused in Egan’s lawsuit, saying, “I believe that I participated in making what I now know to be untrue and provably false allegations against you.”
“Notwithstanding his track record, this same lawyer is coming after Bryan again,” Brettler said in the statement. “We are confident that this case will turn out the same way the Egan case did.”
Michael Pfau, Sanchez-Guzman’s lawyer in Seattle, said the Egan case isn’t relevant.
“To suggest because one of (Singer’s) accusers didn’t tell the truth means all of his accusers aren’t telling the truth is a bit of an overreach,” Pfau said. “I can tell you that our client has a very credible story to tell.”
Sanchez-Guzman said the attack has had a profound negative impact on him that lingers to this day.
“I’m angry, I’m upset,” he said. “But I definitely feel that some weight has been lifted off my shoulders just by finally coming forward.”
Ellis, his Miami attorney, declined to specifically comment about the timing of his client’s lawsuit, but noted that generally, sexual-assault “victims are feeling a sense of empowerment” since multiple people have come forward to publicly accuse powerful men in entertainment, media and political circles.