Over two decades later, the Backstreet Boys keep coming back.
For nostalgia-seekers, the perennially second-best boy band’s upcoming tour might hold some appeal. With the relaxed pace of men celebrating their twenties’ 25th birthday, the band has been creeping into the zeitgeist with new music and televised performances. In May, they released the single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” their first in five years, teasing an upcoming album. They went on to perform the track at the CMT Music Awards, where they announced plans for an upcoming world tour. They also appeared on The Tonight Show, performing a rendition of “I Want It That Way” for Jimmy Fallon’s “Classroom Instruments” series.
With nine studio albums, a Las Vegas residency, and countless tours under their belt, the Backstreet Boys have worked pretty consistently since their late-’90s superstardom. But their latest efforts follow sexual-assault accusations made against the breakout star of the band, Nick Carter, who is the subject of an ongoing police investigation. And Carter’s alleged victim, Melissa Schuman, refuses to stop calling him out, along with the complicity of those facilitating his comeback.
Schuman, a recording artist in the pop group Dream turned actress and comedian, first shared her story in a November blog post. In that lengthy testimony, she described her assault as “something that I’ve wanted to pretend never happened since I was 18.” She recalled, “The first time I met my abuser wasn’t the first time the abuse occurred. The first time we spoke was briefly over the phone while I was filming ‘This Is Me Remix’ music video with my group DREAM and then boss, P. Diddy. My abuser was and still is, in a very well known boyband. My label informed me that this person’s rep had reached out to them and he shown romantic interest in me and would like to set up a chat over the phone.” Schuman, who was dating somebody at the time, said that the call was brief. “Fast forward a few years later. He and I were casted in the same made for TV movie.”
She continued, “My first impression of him, he was kind and charismatic so when he asked if I’d like to hang out with him and his friend at his Santa Monica apartment on our off day of shooting, I said yes. I invited my roommate to come with me.”
“My abuser, 22, provided liquor for the get together and asked us what we would like to drink. We all took a shot and proceeded to the living room to play some video games.”
Later, Schuman said, he led her to the office, where he began to show her some of the music he was working on: “And naturally we started to kiss. He was aware that I was a virgin and that I held to religious conservative Christian values. I was vocal about this. Everyone knew about this, including those who repped me.”
“After kissing for a moment, he took my hand and brought me into the bathroom adjacent to his office. He shut the door and we continued to kiss. I asked him what we were doing in there. He didn’t respond and continued to kiss me. He then pick me up, put me on the bathroom counter and started to unbutton my pants. I told him I didn’t want to go any further. He didn’t listen.”
After assuring her that he wouldn’t “tell anybody,” he allegedly took off her pants and performed oral sex on her. “I told him to stop, but he didn’t.” Later, Schuman claims that he undressed and “asked me to perform oral sex on him,” saying, “I did it for you and it’s only right you do it for me.”
She described her abuser as “growing very angry” with her, and explained that, “He was stronger and much bigger than me, and there was no way I would be able to open that door or have anyone help me… So when he placed my hand on his penis my thought was the only way to get out was to get him to finish what he had started.”
Schuman said that he proceeded to take her to the bedroom: “He threw me on the bed and climbed on top of me. Again, I told him that I was a virgin and I didn’t want to have sex… He was relentless, refusing to take my no’s for an answer. He was heavy, too heavy to get out from under him. Then I felt it, he put something inside of me.”
Schuman alleges that the famous singer called her over and over again, with no response. She hoped that she would never have to interact with him again. Unfortunately, after signing with Kenneth Crear, who was also her alleged abuser’s manager, she “quickly learned that Kenneth was thick as thieves with my abuser.” She recorded a duet with the still-unnamed artist; his part was pre-recorded, and they never overlapped in the studio. “Again, what was I supposed to do?” Schuman wrote. “I couldn’t tell my manager that his best friend had raped me so I won’t record this song.”
Crear allegedly asked the boy-bander to sing the duet live with Schuman at a major label showcase; he agreed. “I wasn’t surprised that he did,” she recalled. “He knew this way I couldn’t avoid him anymore. The day of the showcase, he arrived. I waited quietly and anxiously backstage bracing myself for the confrontation. We stood next to each other in awkward silence. He was irritated with my lack of warm welcome and appreciation for the favor he was doing for me.” At this point in the blog post, Schuman named her alleged abuser for the first time:
“Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Melissa Schuman and from the Backstreet Boys, Nick Carter.”
Schuman seems quite aware that, even in the #MeToo era, survivors face a good deal of skepticism when they come forward. She emphasizes in her post that she did speak up about her assault to family, friends, and her therapist. She eventually told her then-manager Nils Larsen that she wanted to share her story. “He heard me out and said he would do some investigation and would try to find me a good attorney as I intended to press charges,” Schuman recalled. “He later informed me that my abuser… had the most powerful litigator in the country.”
“I didn’t have the money, the clout, or access to an attorney who was powerful enough to stand up against my abuser’s legal counsel. I was told I would likely be buried in humiliation, accused of being fame hungry, and it would ultimately hurt me professionally as well as publicly. I was focused on building a career and name for myself at the time and I didn’t want what he did to further affect my life and future.” (Both Schuman and Carter did not provide The Daily Beast with comment for this story.)
Ultimately, Schuman revealed, she was inspired to come forward after Radar ran a post titled: “Nick Carter Once Investigated for Sexually Assaulting Fan, 20, at House Party” (the article described a police incident report from 2006; no charges were brought and the case was closed that year). Schuman said she felt a responsibility to lend her testimony in support of that anonymous woman, writing, “I feel I have an obligation now to come forward with the hope and intention to inspire and encourage other victims to tell their story. We are stronger in numbers.”
Carter responded to the allegations with his own statement, saying that he was “shocked and saddened” by the 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 continued, “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.”
In December, Schuman appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, where she elaborated on her industry-induced paralysis. “My manager told me, ‘You know you’re trying to build a name for yourself right now, everyone’s going to call you fame hungry, that you’re trying to use this to better yourself or get your name out there and at this point there’s nothing we can do,’” she recalled.
“I remember telling him, ‘Oh, so that’s it… he just gets away with it?!’”
In February, the Santa Monica Police Department confirmed that a complaint had been filed “against Carter about an early 2003 incident.” On Twitter, Schuman wrote, “I’m finally doing what I thought I could no longer do. Im filing a police report,” tagging #TimesUp and #MeToo.
As The Daily Beast previously reported, in July 2004, “tabloid reports emerged showing photos of a bloodied and bruised Paris Hilton, and insinuating that she was abused at the hands of her boyfriend Nick Carter.” At the time, Carter pushed back against the allegations in a statement. According to a 2004 MTV News post, “The Backstreet Boy said the rumors—which stem from reports in the New York Post and the New York Daily News that quoted unnamed friends of Hilton’s speaking on her behalf—are categorically false.” Carter’s high-powered attorney Marty Singer told MTV that Hilton’s bruises were actually from an S&M themed photoshoot. The MTV News article continued, “Hilton’s rep would not disclose where her client’s bruises came from but denied that they occurred during the photo shoot.”
While the Backstreet Boys have continued to work, so has Schuman, consistently using her social-media platform to call out abuse in Hollywood and support survivors. In May, she responded to a Good Morning America tweet announcing that the Backstreet Boys would be performing at its Summer Concert Series. Schuman wrote, “We wonder why the music industry remains exempt from the repercussions & accountability that the #MeToo movement has given to so many. It’s because of enablers like @GMA. They don’t care because they think you don’t care.”