On Tuesday, Buzzfeed published an explosive report on the Bryan Singer sex-abuse case after the website obtained documents showing that director agreed to a $100,000 settlement.
This was in response to the legal action Michael Egan III first launched against the X-Men director in April for alleged sexual abuse that occurred in 1999, when he was 17 years old. Several more suits were filed, including one by an anonymous British actor — his was dismissed by federal court just last week.
In the “memorandum of settlement," Singer agreed to the payment with the stipulation that both parties agree to confidentiality. The contract was signed by all parties, including the director, his lawyer, and Egan’s lawyer Jeff Herman. (Herman also represented the British actor whose case was thrown out last week). Everyone except Egan himself.
The accuser revealed to Buzzfeed that he had no intention of taking the settlement. “This exact kind of take-it-and-shut-up deal is why I decided to stand up in the first place. Being silenced goes completely against what I believe in and offers no protection for other vulnerable children,” Egan said.
Herman has since dropped Egan as a client. Singer’s own lawyer, Martin Singer (no relation), claimed that Herman had approached him and his client wanting to settle and that, according to Buzzfeed, “Herman had ‘clearly lost confidence in Egan.’”
According to one of the motions, Herman filed to withdraw as Egan’s council. The lawyer wrote that the relationship between him and his client had “deteriorated.”
Another document, a letter from Herman’s firm to Egan dated June 25, showed that Herman’s firm planned on representing three other clients and possibly a fourth in sexual abuse cases against Singer.
As for the settlement, The Wrap reports the settlement may still be enforcable even without Egan’s signature.
“It's a misconception that a settlement requires a signature on an official paper filed in court,” said The Wrap’s legal expert Marc J. Randazza. “Unless there's a provision [in the settlement docs] that wasn't really agreed upon. But the provisions that were agreed upon were effectively settled.”
The Wrap explains, "Therefore, the fact that Egan was the only party not to sign the official settlement docs might not matter, providing they are legitimate and he gave the OK to his attorneys on the deal. That can be proven simply by emails, should they exist."
Randazza believes that Egan may be trying to back out of the agreement if there even was one. “I would be very, very surprised if his attorney did that without authority. We're a very cautious bunch. For 100 grand, I can't see any lawyer with a half-decent practice, [forcing] it on his client.”
So either Herman entered into the agreement without Egan’s consent or Egan’s trying to back out of the settlement.
Going forward, if it’s found that Egan did agree to the settlement, Singer could file a motion to enforce it and simply pay up the $100,000 fee.