A woman is suing Nick Carter for allegedly raping her on a Backstreet Boys tour bus in 2001 when she was 17.
In a civil complaint filed Thursday in Clark County, Nevada, Shannon Ruth, now 39, claims that Carter forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her after inviting her onto the boy band's bus following a concert in Tacoma, Washington, during the group's Black & Blue tour. As a result of the alleged assault, Carter infected her with human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause genital warts and even cancer, the complaint states.
She is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages for medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
"The last 21 years have been filled with pain, confusion, frustration, shame, and self-harm that are a direct result of Nick Carter raping me," Ruth said as she shared her story through tears during a news conference.
Ruth, who goes by Shay, is autistic and lives with cerebral palsy, a disorder that impacts movement and coordination, but she said nothing has had a more lasting impact on her life than what Carter allegedly did and said to her.
"After he raped me, I remember him calling me a 'retarded bitch' and grabbing me and leaving bruises on my arm," she said. "I'd also like to say that Carter tried to scare me into silence by saying no one would believe me if I told what happened.
"He was nasty and threatening, saying I would go to jail if I told," Ruth continued. "He also said he would turn people against me because he was Nick Carter and he had the power to wreck my life."
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Carter's attorney Michael Holtz blasted the claim as "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. "No one should be fooled by a press stunt orchestrated by an opportunistic lawyer – there is nothing to this claim whatsoever, which we have no doubt the courts will quickly realize."
The boy band star has been accused of sexually assaulting young women in the past. In 2017, Melissa Schuman, a former member of the all-girl pop group Dream, claimed that he raped her in his apartment in 2002. At the time, Carter, now 42, claimed that the sex was consensual.
Ruth's complaint includes allegations from three other Jane Does, including a 15-year-old, who also say that Carter sexually assaulted them and infected them with HPV. All four women said Carter provided them with alcohol before the assaults.
According to the complaint, Ruth met Carter in the autograph line after attending the Backstreet Boys concert at the Tacoma Dome in February 2001. While on the tour bus, Carter gave her what he described as "VIP juice," which Ruth believes was a combination of alcohol and cranberry juice. After she finished the drink, Carter took her to the bathroom on the bus and told her to get on her knees. He then pulled down his pants, exposing his genitals, and demanded that she perform sexual acts on him, the complaint states.
"Shay was a virgin at the time," Boskovich, her attorney, told reporters. "She had never had a sexual experience in her entire life. Under duress, she did as Carter instructed her and cried throughout the ordeal."
Carter then took Ruth to a bed in the back of the tour bus and allegedly raped her despite her pleas for him to stop and attempts to escape, according to the complaint.
Ruth said that after the incident she started cutting herself, saying that she felt like she had "nowhere to turn" to express the pain and confusion she was grappling with.
"Not only do I struggle with self-harm because of what happened to me, but I also have self-esteem issues and self-doubt," she said at the news conference. "I’ve struggled with blaming myself because I got on the bus with Nick. And as a result, I now have major trust issues."
Ruth said she decided to come forward in an effort to stop Carter from assaulting other girls and young women, saying that she knows she's not the only one he's abused.
"I want my sister survivors to understand that even though it's scary to come forward, now is the time for us to stand together," she said. "So please come forward and stand with me. You’re not alone."
"Carter took away my childhood and innocence," she added, "but he cannot and will not take away my strength or my truth. I am a survivor and always will be."