Stuerman was reportedly involved with Singer between 2009 and 2013; they met when Stuerman was 18 and Singer was 43. In his first-person account, Stuerman detailed Singer’s alleged abusive and manipulative behavior — especially when it came to money and sex — as well as his reported heavy drinking and angry outbursts. Stuerman also described witnessing Singer allegedly assault someone in 2012.
Variety corroborated parts of Stuerman’s story through documents, photos, emails, and texts that Stuerman provided, as well as interviews with 20 people (one of whom corroborated the assault story and was present during the alleged incident as well). In response to a summary of Stuerman’s piece, Singer’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, shared a lengthy response in which he called the allegations “uncorroborated, inflammatory, and highly defamatory.”
“The types of allegations that Mr. Steurman [sic] now is leveling against Mr. Singer are nothing more than self-serving and conclusory statements with absolutely no evidentiary support,” Brettler said. “Mr. Stuerman is angry and upset that he allegedly did not receive the ‘credit’ that he thought he deserved on Mr. Singer’s films… And, most of all, he is angry and upset that Mr. Singer is no longer funding Mr. Stuerman’s jet-setting lifestyle and supporting Mr. Stuerman financially, as he had done for so many years.” (Brettler did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)
Singer has faced numerous accusations of sexual assault and abuse over the years, all of which he has denied. He has never been arrested or charged with a crime, although has faced civil suits: One accusing him of raping a minor in 2014 was withdrawn, while another accusing him of raping a 17-year-old boy was settled for $150,000 in 2019. Singer has not directed a movie since the 2018 Oscar-winning Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (from which he was fired).
In his piece for Variety, Stuerman says he was introduced to Singer in March 2019, not long after his 18th birthday. He was working as an assistant scenic designer and said Gary Goddard — the producer of two of the shows Stuerman was working on — introduced him to Singer (while Stuerman hadn’t heard of Singer, he knew of his blockbusters like X-Men and Superman Returns). Their first night out together, Stuerman said, was with a large group at the upscale sushi restaurant Nobu 57; Stuerman says Singer invited everyone back to his hotel suite afterward and that Singer “asked to see my driver’s license because he couldn’t believe I was actually 18.”
While Stuerman left Singer’s hotel that night, he says they soon began spending more time together. At one dinner, Stuerman — who’d never drunk alcohol before — said Singer began insisting he drink a little: “Just try it. It’s OK. You’re safe. I relented and took a sip of his drink. It burned my throat. He insisted I have the rest. And then he ordered another.”
That night, Stuerman said, was the first time he was drunk and the night ended with him alone with Singer in a hotel suite. “My chest grows tight now just thinking about it. You can imagine what happened next. I didn’t know I was allowed to say no. I didn’t know that alcohol was affecting my decision-making ability.” (Brettler, Singer’s lawyer, did not address the claim that Singer got Stuerman drunk before their first sexual encounter in his response to Variety.)
Stuerman said Singer soon convinced him to move out to Los Angeles if he was serious about pursuing a film career. It was at this point, Stuerman added, that he learned about Singer’s “reputation for liking very young-looking men.”
He continued: “Older men would lead groups of twinks, like me, into Bryan’s house. It was expected that these men had already vetted these boys to make sure they were legal. He would come hang out for a bit, make sure everyone had drinks, and then he’d pick the one, two, or more who he liked and we’d see them an hour or three later. I was often one of them.”
Stuerman said he worked hard to prove himself to Singer, and said, at the time, he felt “incredibly lucky to have such a talented and powerful man as my mentor.” Stuerman said Singer would take him not just to expensive dinners and parties, but also film sets, post-production sessions, development meetings, and more (it was around this time, Stuerman adds, that Singer became “fuck you fuck you fuck you rich” thanks in part to the success of the medical drama House, for which he was an executive producer). In return, though, Stuerman said, Singer often expected sex.
“As we got closer, he expected even more,” Stuerman wrote. “If he didn’t find a boy out at the bars that night, I would have to be the boy. If I put up even a little bit of resistance, he’d get angry. Why would I throw my future away? If I wanted to leave I was welcome to, but I wouldn’t be allowed back. He would text me about sex: ‘Boy cum yeahhhhhhhhh!’”
The assault incident Stuerman describes allegedly took place in fall 2012 during a late-night party at the director’s home. Singer had already “passed out in his room,” Stuerman said, but returned angrily because the party was so loud. “He violently attacked one of the guests near me. I grabbed Bryan and took him back into the house. His eyes were wild and full of rage. I had never seen him like this before. We went to his room and he slammed the door. I found a shattered lamp on the floor and began picking up the pieces.”
At that point, Stuerman claims Singer told him, “I’ll fucking kill you if you leave me.” (Brettler did not address the assault allegation in his response to Variety.)
Stuerman said he grew more fearful of Singer after that, but also more involved. He said he was formally on Singer’s payroll, worked on his various projects, and the two essentially lived together for long stretches. But Singer also grew more controlling, he said. Stuerman said he wasn’t allowed to date or “have sex with people of my choosing,” and if Stuerman hooked up with someone without Singer’s permission, Singer “berated me, and dangled my future in front of me.”
While working with Singer on X-Men: Days of Future Past in spring 2013, Stuerman said Singer’s “mental and emotional abuse… would frequently trigger panic attacks” (one even landed him in the emergency room, he claims). Stuerman, at one point, confronted Singer about his drinking, which allegedly enraged Singer. Stuerman said he nearly left after that moment but ultimately decided to stay. But after Stuerman accidentally overslept one morning — not missing any work, but brunch — he said a security guard showed up at his apartment and told him he needed to pack up and leave.
“To make sure you’re loyal and that you won’t leave, Bryan gives you a taste of having nothing,” Stuerman said. “He teaches you a lesson. Your credit card is frozen, and you’re expected to pay for yourself to get back home. It’s like a time out. It scares people into realizing what they’ll lose. I was told to lay low and wait a few days. Just let it blow over.”
But when he returned to Los Angeles, Stuerman decided to cut ties with Singer (a “separation agreement,” which included a “low five-figure payment” was reportedly reached). Over the next few years, Stuerman said he struggled to come to grips with the alleged abuse and often found himself defending Singer after sexual assault allegations surfaced in 2014. It was only after receiving therapy and treatment for abuse and PTSD, Stuerman said, “that I accepted what had actually happened.”
He continued: “I am a victim of abuse by a very powerful, very wealthy, and very sick man. I am a victim of Bryan Singer.”