[Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.]
Melissa Schuman, actress and former member of pop group Dream, published an essay over the weekend, in which she accuses Backstreet Boy Nick Carter of raping her when she was 18. Schuman writes that she was first introduced to Carter when she was performing with Dream (under the auspices of Sean Combs); her agent had reached out about the Backstreet Boy’s romantic interest in her. Although she was already dating someone at the time, she felt obligated to take a phone call with Carter, “out of respect and courtesy to my label.”
There were no sparks, so Schuman considered the matter settled. But when she met Carter again years later, after being cast in a TV movie with him, she was 18 and single and, at age 22, he was “kind and charismatic.” She reports that he invited her over to his house with her roommate. It was after touring his home and music studio that Schuman says Carter assaulted her. She says that he performed oral sex on her without her consent, then demanded she return the favor: “I did it for you and it’s only right you do it for me.”
Schuman writes that she “felt scared and trapped. He was visually and clearly growing very angry and impatient with me.” She says she complied, but then Carter took her into his bedroom, where he penetrated her with his penis despite her repeated “no”s. Schuman says she woke up in an empty bedroom the next morning, and left with her roommate. She ignored his many subsequent phone calls.
Years later, Schuman signed with a new manager, Kenneth Crear, who also managed Carter. Crear arranged for a showcase for Schuman, including a duet with Carter. The two singers recorded their parts separately, and when the time came to perform the song live, Carter agreed to join Schuman in her showcase. But Schuman claims he turned angry backstage when she wasn’t happy to see him, saying “Let’s just get this over with already.” The song was ultimately tanked by the label, which showed little interest in Schuman after the performance, something she believes was a result of Carter’s influence. Even Crear was ready to drop Schuman as a client. She writes:
I was broken.
I was tired.
I was traumatized.
Although she told friends and a therapist about the alleged rape after it happened, Schuman wasn’t ready to come forward, not even after the Harvey Weinstein story first broke. It wasn’t until she saw the comments on a Radar Online post about different allegations against Carter that she felt compelled to speak up. She writes: “Victim shaming is a core reason why victims don’t speak out. The last comment is exactly what keeps victims, like myself, from ever speaking out.”
Carter quickly denied the allegations in a statement to People magazine:
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.