Former Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter was shut down by a Los Angeles judge Wednesday in his bid to dismiss the rape lawsuit filed by former Dream singer Melissa Schuman. Carter, 43, tried but failed to bounce the case on the grounds that Schuman’s claim actually belongs in Las Vegas, where he’s already suing Schuman and two other sex assault accusers for defamation.
At a morning hearing in Santa Monica, California, Los Angeles County Judge Lisa Sepe-Wiesenfeld expressed skepticism that Nevada was the best venue. She noted that Schuman alleges Carter raped her in Santa Monica in 2003 and that the Santa Monica Police Department investigated the claim.
“The plaintiff indicated that there are many witnesses here. There are events that occurred here. So, it’s not merely that the one incident occurred here. She recounted at least 15 witnesses for plaintiff that reside here,” the judge said as Carter listened in via a court phone line and Schuman sat at a plaintiff’s table alongside her lawyer, Karen Barth Menzies.
Carter’s lawyer argued that Schuman’s lawsuit, filed in April, was so inextricably linked to the Vegas-based sex assault lawsuits filed by accuser Shannon Ruth in 2022 and Jane Doe A.R. in August that consolidating them was necessary to avoid “inconsistent rulings” in separate jurisdictions. Judge Sepe-Wiesenfeld expressed some concern about that but ultimately sided with Schuman in a final ruling issued Wednesday afternoon. “The alleged conduct occurred in California,” she wrote in her ruling. “The community has an interest in resolving claims arising out of conduct in this jurisdiction.”
Speaking outside the hearing, Schuman says she attended in person to send a clear message. “I just want to show him that I’m not scared. I’m not intimidated. That everything that they’ve put me through ever since I came forward isn’t working on me. I’m not backing down. I’m not going away. I’m not staying silent. I will fight for justice,” she tells Rolling Stone.
“California recognizes how hard it is for survivors to come forward in sexual assault cases and has passed numerous pieces of legislation to try to make it easier on survivors for doing this,” Barth Menzies adds. The lawyer says that one of the reasons Schuman’s case belongs in California is because it was filed under a state law that opened a yearlong look-back window allowing victims to file lawsuits over alleged sex assaults that otherwise were beyond the statute of limitations. The law, which expired Dec. 31, revived claims that specifically include allegations of a cover-up.
In Schuman’s case, the complaint alleged Ruth’s 2001 purported assault was covered up by Carter by making a “concerted effort to hide evidence relating to previous incidences or allegations of sexual assault or other inappropriate conduct, communications, or activity sexual in nature from becoming public or being disclosed to Plaintiff.”
At the Wednesday hearing, Carter’s lawyer said his client flatly denies he assaulted Ruth, so there was no cover up, meaning Schuman has no right to sue. Schuman’s lawyer countered that Ruth’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by Carter on a bus during the Backstreet Boys’ 2001 stop in Tacoma, Washington, was hardly a linchpin of their case. “We wouldn’t even need that allegation in there to allege a cover up,” Barth Menzies told the court Wednesday. “We have reason to believe, on good faith, that there are many other examples of a cover up that would qualify.”
Carter has denied any wrongdoing related to his three accusers. Responding to Ruth’s lawsuit, he filed counterclaims against Ruth, Schuman, and Schuman’s dad early last year alleging the trio conspired to harass, defame, and extort him. He described Ruth as a “vulnerable” woman who was “groomed and coached” to fabricate a claim. According to Carter’s counterclaim filed Feb. 2 in Las Vegas, Ruth’s lawsuit caused him and the Backstreet Boys to lose “at least $2,350,000 due to the cancellation of five promotional events, contracts and/or endorsement deals with entities including ABC, ‘Good Morning America,’ MeUndies, VRBO and Roblox.” Both Ruth and Schuman filed motions to dismiss the counterclaims but were denied. They’re now appealing the rulings in Nevada.
According to Carter, he engaged in “consensual sex” with Schuman as well as Jane Doe A.R., who sued him in August with allegations he raped her on a yacht in 2003 when she was 15 years old. Carter filed counterclaims against A.R. earlier this month stating she told his sister she was 18 years old at the time of the alleged assault. He claims in the new filing that Schuman “recruited” A.R. to join the conspiracy alleged in his prior counterclaim.
“Upon information and belief, Schuman, A.R. and Ruth agreed to assist and contribute to the campaign to defame and harass Carter in an effort to achieve those aims while extorting whatever funds they could from Carter. Upon information and belief, the group agreed and continues to agree to share in any settlement funds realized from their extortionate campaign,” his Jan. 5 counterclaim states.
Lawyers for A.R. responded to Carter’s counterclaim in court in an email statement to Rolling Stone. “Our team has read through Carter’s lengthy and convoluted counterclaim, but one thing – which is legally the most significant thing – stands out,” wrote Margaret Mabie and John Kawai. “Carter cannot and did not deny AR’s claims that he statutory raped her when she was a minor 15-year-old teen visiting his minor twin siblings in Florida. Carter’s attempts to villainize his victims are far from novel, and our firms look forward to enthusiastically defending our client against Carter’s meritless claims.”