By Joey Nolfi
January 23, 2019 at 02:56 PM EST

Hollywood filmmaker Bryan Singer — who helmed several X-Men franchise films before partially directing 2019 Oscar contender Bohemian Rhapsody — has been hit with new allegations of having sex with underage boys in an exposé published Wednesday by The Atlantic.

The piece is the result of 12 months of investigation and features interviews with more than 50 sources — four of whom the magazine says spoke about their encounters with Singer for the first time, including men who claimed they had sex with the director while under the age of 18.

One subject — referred to as “Eric” — claims that, while 17 years old, he had sex with Singer at the director’s home in 1997, and that their sexual relationship lasted into his twenties. A second claims that at age 15 he and Singer had a sexual encounter in a Beverly Hills mansion. Both men, who asked the publication to conceal their identities in fear of retaliation, say Singer (then in his early thirties) knew they had not yet reached the age of consent as dictated by California state law.

“The accusations against Singer cover a spectrum. Some of the alleged victims say they were seduced by the director while underage; others say they were raped,” the article reads. “The victims we interviewed told us these experiences left them psychologically damaged, with substance-abuse problems, depression, and PTSD.”

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Entertainment Weekly has not independently verified any of the incidents recounted in the Atlantic’s article. Singer’s attorney, however, told the Atlantic that the article “rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits” and accused its writer of being “homophobic.”

Eric — who told the publication his first encounter with Singer took place in a hot tub, before which he claims he explicitly told the director he was 17 years old — also alleges that Singer had others bring young boys to him for his sexual pleasure.

“If you weren’t young and cute enough to be their boy, you could still ingratiate yourself by bringing boys to them,” he reveals. “That’s how I met Bryan, and that’s how I wound up at the DEN estate — people trying to ingratiate themselves.”

The piece goes on to quote Victor Valdovinos, a then-seventh-grader who claims Singer molested him on the set of the film Apt Pupil in the spring of 1997. He remembers Singer introducing himself and offering to explore the possibility of giving a part to the 13-year-old while in a bathroom at Eliot Middle School in Altadena, California, where the film shot.

Valdovinos’ father later dropped him off on the set. The teen alleges he was instructed to strip naked and wrap a towel around his waist in anticipation of shooting a shower scene. He remembers Singer taking him to a closed-off area of a locker room and molesting him throughout the day.

“Every time he had a chance — three times — he would go back there.… He was always touching my chest,” Valdovinos explains, alleging that Singer proceeded to reach through his towel and “grabbed my genitals and started masturbating it” while rubbing “his front part on me.” Through his attorney Andrew B. Brettler, Singer tells the publication that he “did not know who Valdovinos was and denied that anything had happened between them,” per the Atlantic.

The scene, however, led to a series of lawsuits against Singer and the Apt Pupil production, filed on behalf of boys ranging in age from 14 to 17. According to the Atlantic piece, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not press criminal charges, the suits were settled for an undisclosed amount, and all parties involved were bound by confidentiality agreements.

“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism,” reads a statement from Singer provided to EW through Brettler and publicist Howard Bragman. “That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”

In October 2018, Singer posted a message on Instagram acknowledging that Esquire magazine was planning to publish a “negative” article about him, for which he claimed the publication contacted his friends and colleagues for more information regarding “false accusations and bogus lawsuits,” though he never explicitly revealed which allegations the unpublished piece would recount.

Singer has also courted controversy in recent years, as the filmmaker was fired from 20th Century Fox’s current Oscar contender Bohemian Rhapsody in December 2017 after an extended absence from the set of the Queen biopic forced a production shutdown. He was later replaced by Dexter Fletcher, and ultimately contended that his departure was related to the declining health of a sick parent.

Shortly thereafter, Singer was sued for allegedly raping a 17-year-old boy named Cesar Sanchez-Guzman (who also speaks on his experience in the Atlantic article), in 2003. At the time, a representative for the director told PEOPLE “Bryan categorically denies these allegations and will vehemently defend this lawsuit to the very end.” His name was subsequently removed from the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Division of Cinema & Media Studies.

In September 2018, it was reported that Singer was in negotiations to direct Millennium’s Red Sonja adaptation, to be based on the 1970s Conan the Barbarian comic book spinoff centering around a female protagonist who is also a survivor of sexual assault.

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