What Is He Accused Of?

This story mentions sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

The four-part Investigation Discovery docuseries “Fallen Idols: Nick and Aaron Carter” unpacks sexual assault allegations involving Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter.

Nick Carter, 44, has been accused of sexual assault by three women, all of whom filed lawsuits against him in 2022 and 2023. His three accusers are interviewed in the documentary. 

He previously denied all allegations in past statements and responded to the women’s lawsuits with counterclaims against each.

The docuseries, airing on May 27 and 28, warns viewers that the details might be “disturbing” as the three women recount the trauma they allegedly suffered.  

“The views expressed are those of the accused alone,” the docuseries says. It also notes that the cases involving these allegations are ongoing and that the singer declined to be interviewed for “Fallen Idols: Nick and Aaron Carter.”

TODAY.com has reached out to Nick Carter for comment. Dale Hayes, Jr., an attorney for Nick Carter, provided comment on the documentary in a statement to TODAY.com: “These are exactly the same outrageous claims that led us to sue this gang of conspirators. Those cases are working their way through the legal system now, and, based on both the initial court rulings and the overwhelming evidence, we have every belief that we will prevail and hold them accountable for spreading these falsehoods.”

Who has come forward with allegations against Nick Carter?

Former singer and actor Melissa Schuman, Shannon “Shay” Ruth and a third accuser, who is referred to as “Ashley” in the Investigation Discovery docuseries and A.R. in a lawsuit, all open up about their sexual assault allegations against Nick Carter. 

NBC News identifies people alleging sexual abuse only when they have agreed to come forward publicly.

As of August 2023, each woman has filed a lawsuit against the pop star, according to documents obtained by TODAY.com show.

Melissa Schuman

Melissa Schuman, a former member of the girl group DREAM, first came forward with sexual assault allegations against Nick Carter in a blog post published in November 2017, which she says took place in 2003. She described, in the documentary, the “hell on earth” that came after she published her blog post. The episode includes screenshots of hateful messages she has received from Backstreet Boys fans questioning her credibility.  

Nick Carter responded in November 2017 to her blog post’s allegations in a statement obtained by NBC News. 

“I am shocked and saddened by Ms. Schuman’s accusations. Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual. We went on to record a song and perform together, and I was always respectful and supportive of Melissa both personally and professionally,” he said. 

“This is the first that I am hearing about these accusations, nearly two decades later. It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm,” he continued.

Schuman was unable to file a lawsuit when she first came out with the allegations because of a 10-year statute of limitations, but that changed in 2023, when a new California law changed the statute of limitations window for sexual assault claims made by adult accusers. 

The lawsuit, filed in January 2023, describes Schuman as “a survivor of sexual abuse, sexual battery, assault, and molestation at the hands of … Nick Carter,” and said Carter used his power to “gain access to, groom, manipulate, exploit, and sexually assault” Schuman.

It lists sexual battery, sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress as causes of action. 

The incident, per the lawsuit, took place when Schuman was 18 at Carter’s apartment in Santa Monica. At the time, she and Carter were co-stars in the teen horror film “The Hollow.” Schuman had left the girl group DREAM the year prior, in 2002. 

Carter invited Schuman over to his apartment and she went over with her roommate, per the lawsuit. Schuman alleges Carter assaulted her in his office that evening.   

“It felt like getting hit by waves where you come up for air and you keep getting hit and you go back down,” she says in the documentary, going into detail about the alleged attack. Schuman said in the lawsuit she was a virgin before the alleged assault and that she contracted HPV. She told people about the alleged assault including her father, Jerome Schuman, featured in the documentary. 

Nick Carter’s attorney Liane K. Wakayama called the lawsuit a “PR stunt” in a statement: “Melissa Schuman has been peddling this tale for many years, but her allegation was false when she first made it back in 2017 — and it still is.”

Schuman’s lawsuit came after a judge in Nevada allowed Carter to move forward with a counterclaim against another accuser, Shannon Ruth, who filed a lawsuit in December 2022. Schuman and her father were named as defendants, and in 2024 the third accuser, A.R., was added. 

Ashley Rapp

The plaintiff known as A.R., who goes by Ashley in the documentary, says she saw Schuman’s blog post and it “sent shivers down” her spine. She goes on to discuss something “very traumatic” she says happened when she was 15 years old, and is described in her lawsuit filed in August 2023. 

The lawsuit listed sexual battery, infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress as causes for action.

The incidents took place in Marathon, Florida in 2003, where the Carter family had a compound, per the lawsuit. The lawsuit said Carter “was aware” A.R. was a minor at the time of multiple sexual acts, engaged ‘without (A.R.’s) consent.” A.R. said she was a virgin during their first encounter and she contracted HPV. The lawsuit said Carter “instructed” three friends to observe them “engage in sexual intercourse.”

A.R., in the documentary, says she was “adamantly, vocally against” having sex.

A.R. returned to her home in Pennsylvania and told her mother what had happened, who then filed a police report. Authorities did not press charges, per the lawsuit. 

A countersuit filed in 2024 gives insight into why the state prosecutor didn’t press charges, quoting a sheriff’s filing at the time that cited A.R.’s three-month delay in reporting the incident and the Carter family “believing she was 18 years of age.” A.R. “looked 18” and that “any reasonable person would believe that she were at least that age.”

Lawyer for Nick Carter responded to the lawsuit at the time saying A.R. was “repeating the same false accusations” she once did.

“Nick is looking forward to the evidence being presented and the truth about these malicious schemes coming to light,” the statement from lawyer Dale Hynes, Jr. said, in part.

Shannon “Shay” Ruth

In December 2022, Shannon “Shay” Ruth became the first woman to file a lawsuit against Carter on the grounds of sexual assault.

Ruth alleges the incident took place in a tour bus when she was 17 in 2001. Per the lawsuit, Carter invited her to the tour bus while Ruth was in a meet and greet line after a Backstreet Boys concert at the Tacoma Dome. Ruth, like the other two women who filed lawsuits, said she was a virgin at the time of the incident and that she contracted HPV.

The causes of action listed are sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. 

Nick Carter’s attorney, Michael Holtz, denied Ruth’s allegations in a statement on Dec. 8, 2022. 

“This claim about an incident that supposedly took place more than 20 years ago is not only legally meritless but also entirely untrue. 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,” Holtz said. 

How has Nick Carter responded to the allegations?

Nick Carter filed a counterclaim against Ruth in February 2023, seeking $2.35 million in damages. 

The lawsuit, obtained by NBC News, lists Melissa Schuman and her father as counter-defendants, too. The filing alleges that the Schumans brought Ruth “into their scheme” and “groomed and coached” her to say she was sexually assaulted by the Backstreet Boys member. 

The countersuit claims, generally, that Schuman, his other two accusers and Schuman’s father Jerome Schuman are engaging in a “conspiracy to defame and vilify Carter and otherwise ruin Carter’s reputation for the purposes of garnering attention and fame and/or extorting money from Carter.” 

Evidence the judge used to allow the countersuit to move forward included a correspondence between Ruth and an online friend named Heather Hayat, who, according to her declaration, met on Twitter.

“Shay messaged me and told me she felt bad because she hadn’t been hurt by Nick like Melissa and Ashley were claiming. Instead, she told me Nick had said mean things to her and she had been bullied,” Hayat wrote in the declaration, attaching a screenshot of their alleged direct message. 

Further evidence included an affidavit from a friend of Ruth’s who attended the concert when the alleged incident took place and “believes Ruth’s timeline is factually impossible” after witnessing the band members return to the hotel from the meet and greet. 

One of the Backstreet Boys’ security guards, Marcus Johnson, wrote in a declaration that it would be “impossible for any fan to be alone with any of the band members on their tour bus,” and that he would have been “made aware” of any deviation at the Tacoma concert.

Jerome Schuman, Melissa Schuman and Ruth denied Nick Carter’s allegations in the docuseries. 

Jerome Schuman says, “We only have one reason we are doing what we’re doing which is to attain justice.” 

Ruth says, “Nobody manipulated me or forced me or planned out any conspiracy or anything else.” 

Melissa Schuman says that she is suing because she wants her own due process and thought that it would never be a possibility until the statute of limitations changed in California civil court. 

“As of January 2023 I could finally file a lawsuit and attempt to hold him accountable and so I did,” she says. 

In new documents filed in January 2024, an “A.R.” was mentioned as a defendant and called a “co-conspirator” in the suit.

Where do lawsuits against Nick Carter, and his countersuit, stand now?

As the docuseries mentioned, Melissa Schuman and Ruth both filed to have Nick Carter’s lawsuit dismissed. A judge ruled in March 2023 that his counterclaim could move forward, documents obtained by NBC News show. 

In January a judge denied Nick Carter’s request to move his sexual assault case involving Melissa Schuman from California to Nevada. 

Nick Carter spoke about the allegations for the first time during an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” in May. “There is a legal process happening right now, and I can’t get into too many of the details. But you know what I can say is that I’m really happy with the way things are going and once it’s all done I look forward to finally talking about it,” he said.

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