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Update on Backstreet Boy Nick Carter's Sexual Assault Allegations

By Mariana Petersen, J.D. | Translated by Joseph Fawbush, Esq. | Last updated on

Three women have sued famed Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter for sexual assault. The events date back to the early 2000s, which complicates the civil complaints against him.

Here are the allegations:

  • Shannon Ruth sued Carter in 2022 over a sexual assault she says occurred in 2001. She alleged that the Backstreet Boy picked her out of a line of fans seeking autographs and then raped her on the tour bus when she was 17 years old.
  • Melissa Schuman sued Carter in 2023, also for an alleged sexual assault that occurred in 2002. Schuman had a dating relationship with Carter at the time.
  • A.R., who is remaining anonymous, sued Carter in 2023 for sexual abuse on multiple occasions in 2003 when she was 15 years old. Additionally, A.R. claims that Carter infected her with HPV during said encounters.

Nick Carter's Response

Carter responded with a countersuit for defamation. He is asking for $2,350,000 from those who accused him of rape. This sum, Carter's legal representatives explain, comes from lost contracts, emotional distress, attorney fees, and punitive damages.

The countersuit states that the Backstreet Boys lost contracts with ABC, Good Morning America, Roblox, and VRBO as a result of these allegations.

His legal team called the sexual assault allegations an extortionate lawsuit taking advantage of the rise of the “Me Too” movement.

The singer and his legal team deny the allegations. In Ruth's case specifically, they say she was manipulated into telling lies by people taking advantage of her autism. Regarding Schuman, Carter argues that the sexual encounters were consensual, given that they were a couple at the time.

What About the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations, the legal term for the time a victim has to take legal action, can play an important role in allegations of sexual assault. Limitation periods vary greatly depending on the type of crime and the state where it occurs. Many states have amended the statute of limitations for both criminal and civil sexual assault cases in recent years.

One example is California, which has eliminated the statute of limitations for certain serious crimes, including rape. However, this applies to crimes committed after 2017, or for which the statute of limitations has not expired. As far as Carter's case is concerned, the statute of limitations expired in 2013. Perhaps for this reason, California declined to bring criminal charges against Carter.

For civil lawsuits, California law has a 10-year statute of limitations for lawsuits claiming sexual assault, counting from the day of the incident or 3 years from the day on which the alleged victim discovers or should have discovered they were a victim of sexual assault. However, the statute of limitations can be greater if the victim was under 18 at the time the sexual assault occurred.

Sexual Abuse and Cover-up Accountability Act

California recently passed an important law for civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault. The Sexual Abuse and Cover-up Accountability Act allows certain victims to seek compensation for sexual abuse and assault if they were not been able to do so because the time limit had expired. This "lookback period" ends in 2026.

This law might be why Carter's lawyers tried to move Schuman's case from California to Nevada. Carter's team argued all the cases should be under the same jurisdiction. However, the judge overseeing the lawsuit held that it should continue in California.

Nevada previously had a very short statute of limitations to make a civil claim for sexual abuse. Recently, this deadline was eliminated for victims of sexual abuse who were under 18 at the time the abuse occurred.

What Kind of Punishment Could Carter Face?

Carter is not currently facing criminal charges. Due to existing law in California and Nevada, it is not clear if he will ever face criminal charges for these alleged actions. The cases that are ongoing are civil in nature. In civil cases alleging sexual abuse or assault, damages can end up being quite high.

Carter will also be able to pursue his countersuit asking for more than two million dollars. Whoever wins this lawsuit will be awarded a significant sum. However, it is also possible that the two sides will settle or that a jury finds neither party responsible for an injury, in which case no money would be awarded to either side.

Note: This blog originally appeared on abogado.com. Used with permission. Read it in Spanish

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