Michael Egan says he grew up a “happy-go-lucky” kid in Nebraska. But by the time he left Hollywood in his late teens after moving there to work as a child actor and model, he was a different person.
“It changed me completely,” he tells PEOPLE, adding that he “hated the world. [I] hated everything.”
Egan, now 31, is at the center of a lawsuit filed Wednesday accusing X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him as a teenager.
Speaking to PEOPLE after a press conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, Egan was soft-spoken but passionate about coming forward. He said that he had filed the lawsuit, in which he accuses the prominent director of forcing him into sex during parties in the late 1990s, after realizing “there’s no justice for anything that ever happened to me.”
Singer’s attorney, Marty Singer, has vehemently denied the accusations. “The claims made today about Bryan Singer are completely fabricated,” he said in a statement after the press conference. We look forward to our bringing a claim for malicious prosecution against Mr. Egan and his attorney after we prevail.”
As detailed in his lawsuit, Egan says the alleged abuse included being drugged and lured into a sex ring with promises of auditions for acting, modeling and commercial jobs. He says he reported the molestation to the authorities when he was 17 but the accusations were not investigated. (Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said the department is looking into whether a report was made.)
Now living in Las Vegas and engaged to “an incredible fiancée, Egan says he turned to alcohol to cope with his pain until getting sober several years ago.
“I would have the feelings and flashbacks all the time, and the sadness and depression,” he says. “What I did was I drank, and drank, and drank, and eventually I got to a spot two years ago where I had suicidal thoughts.”
Then “I stopped the drinking and I thought, ‘I need to pull myself back together here. I cannot allow these people to affect me anymore. I’ve got to get help for this.'” He credits AA for his sobriety.
The press junket for X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled for May 2-4. Fox has not announced whether Singer will still attend as previously planned.
Egan’s attorney, Jeff Herman, denies that the timing of the lawsuit is related to the release of the film, which is due to hit theaters on May 23.
Rather, the lawsuit was filed in Hawaii – where Egan alleges some of the crimes took place – because the state has extended the statute of limitations on such charges, a window which Herman says expires on April 24.
• Reporting by GABRIELLE OLYA