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Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter accused of rape, infecting teen girl with HPV

A man with short blond hair wearing a jean jacket and forming a heart shape with his hands
Nick Carter attends a 2021 event at the Grove in Los Angeles.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)
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Content warning: This story includes descriptions of sexual assault and self-harm.

A woman has filed a civil sexual battery lawsuit accusing Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter of assaulting her and infecting her with HPV when she was 17 and he was 21.

During a press conference Thursday at Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton hotel, an attorney for 39-year-old Shannon “Shay” Ruth said that Carter sexually assaulted his client in February 2001 after a Backstreet Boys concert in Tacoma, Wash. — a claim that matched the allegations outlined in the lawsuit, which was obtained by TMZ. The press conference was streamed live on Facebook.

An attorney for Carter disputed the allegations, calling them “legally meritless” and “entirely untrue,” in a Thursday statement provided to The Times.

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Ruth identified herself as a rape survivor during the briefing and granted reporters permission to publish her full name.

The complaint claims that after Ruth attended the Backstreet Boys concert and lined up for autographs, Carter invited her to join him on a tour bus, where he allegedly served her a beverage he called “VIP juice,” according to TMZ. She said she believes the drink was a mix of alcohol and cranberry juice.

Ruth alleges in the lawsuit that after she drank the “juice,” Carter took her to the bus bathroom and ordered her to perform oral sex on him, according to TMZ. He then allegedly took Ruth to a bed in the back of the bus and continued to sexually assault her while she begged him to stop.

During the press conference, Ruth consistently characterized the alleged assault as rape.

“The last 21 years have been filled with pain, confusion, frustration, shame and self-harm ... ,” Ruth told reporters Thursday.

“Even though I’m autistic and live with cerebral palsy, I believe that nothing has affected me more or had a more lasting impact on my life” than the alleged assault, she said.

In the complaint, Ruth also accused Carter of using ableist and misogynistic terms, allegedly calling her a “r— little b—” and telling her no one would believe her, according to TMZ. And soon after, Ruth said during the press conference, she began cutting herself.

“I felt like I had nowhere to turn, no way to express my emotions, pain and confusion except by hurting myself. And I truly believed that if I told anyone, I would go to jail,” she said.

Ruth also claims in her lawsuit that Carter infected her with HPV, according to Rolling Stone. She is seeking compensatory and punitive monetary damages.

“This claim about an incident that supposedly took place more than 20 years ago is not only legally meritless but also entirely untrue,” Carter’s attorney Michael Holtz said. “Unfortunately, for several years now, Ms. Ruth has been manipulated into making false allegations about Nick — and those allegations have changed repeatedly and materially over time. No one should be fooled by a press stunt orchestrated by an opportunistic lawyer — there is nothing to this claim whatsoever, which we have no doubt the courts will quickly realize.”

Amid the allegations, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter reported Thursday that ABC would be scrapping a Dec. 14 Backstreet Boys TV special — “A Very Backstreet Holiday” — and would be airing reruns in its place.


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