Former Saturday Night Live cast member Horatio Sanz has been accused of grooming and sexually assaulting a teenaged girl in the early 2000s in a new lawsuit filed Thursday by the now-adult accuser.
The lawsuit — filed by a Jane Doe in Pennsylvania who says she ran a Jimmy Fallon fansite from 1999 to 2002 — also lists NBC, Saturday Night Live, and 20 unnamed SNL cast and crew members as defendants.
Soon after launching the Fallon fan website, Fallon and Sanz emailed Jane Doe from an NBC account in January 2000, which began Sanz’ “process of grooming” her, the lawsuit claims. In October 2000, the plaintiff attended an SNL taping, meeting Sanz for the first time; the actor was “flirtatious and physically affectionate with the then-15-year-old… kissing her cheek and putting his hands on her waist.” A similar encounter happened at another SNL taping that fall, the lawsuit says (via Variety).
In May 2001, Jane Doe “was permitted entry to attend an SNL afterparty” where she was witnessed drinking alcohol, even though the SNL attendees “knew or should have known” she was underage; the lawsuit doesn’t make clear whether she was invited by or served alcohol by Sanz.
A few months later, in August 2001, Doe and Sanz allegedly began interacting on AOL Instant Messenger, starting an “incessant exchange of communications in which Sanz groomed and molested [Doe],” with Sanz accused of “regularly and repeatedly ask[ing] for photos of her.” Sanz is also accused of steering “conversations to discuss sex, sexual experiences, sexual fantasies, and masturbation.”
The following fall and through the spring of 2002, Doe continued to attend SNL afterparties — where she was allegedly introduced to Lorne Michaels by Fallon — and served alcohol despite being underage. At a May 2002 party, Doe accuses Sanz of “kissing her, groping her breasts, groping her buttocks, and digitally penetrating her genitals forcibly without consent,” which she claimed occurred “in sight of attendees, including NBC employees.”
Over the following years, after graduating high school and while attending college, Sanz and Doe allegedly kept in contact. During this period, she “became depressed, ashamed, and self-loathing” and “regularly self-medicated with dissociative drugs.” Despite the emotional turmoil, Sanz continued to converse with her online in a sexual nature, Doe claims.
The lawsuit also includes a text exchange between Sanz and Doe in 2019 where the comedian said he was “very sorry” about what happened decades earlier, and that “if you want to metoo me you have every right,” the lawsuit claims.
As Variety notes, the lawsuit was filed in a New York state court just two days before the deadline to file a claim under the state’s Child Victims Act, which offers a “lookback window” to victims of child sex abuse.
A representative for NBC declined to comment on the lawsuit to Rolling Stone, but Sanz’s lawyer Andrew Brettler told RS in a statement: “This individual’s claims about Horatio Sanz are categorically false. However often she repeats her ludicrous allegations or tries to rope in other high-profile names to generate media attention, they will always be false. Before filing this lawsuit anonymously, she demanded $7.5 million in exchange for her silence. We, of course, refused and will vigorously contest these totally meritless claims.”