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Bryan SingerFor people who lived the through the dot-com collapse of the late 1990s, the name Marc Collins-Rector carries a special horror. Not only was he the architect of one of the most famous implosions of the time — the bankruptcy of Digital Entertainment Networks, an early provider of online video — but he is also a convicted child molester, according to federal records.
In fact, after DEN went belly-up (with the loss of 300 jobs following a botched $75 million IPO), Collins-Rector fled the U.S. and briefly spent time in a Spanish prison before being convicted in federal court of sex crimes. He pleaded guilty and paid a fine.
His name has resurfaced in the lawsuit filed against X-Men director Bryan Singer. The plaintiff, Michael Egan, claims he was 17 years old back in 1998 when he was introduced to Singer at Collins-Rector's mansion in California, according to The Wrap, where you can download a copy of the lawsuit.
On the grounds of the mansion, Egan was raped and sexually harassed and threatened with a gun by Collins-Rector, the founder of DEN, if he didn't comply, the lawsuit alleges. An attorney for Singer told The Wrap that the lawsuit was “completely without merit”:
“We are very confident that Bryan will be vindicated in this absurd and defamatory lawsuit ... It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan’s new movie is about to open in a few weeks."
Collins-Rector is not named as a defendant in the suit, but his alleged actions are described within it — suggesting that the plaintiff is in part hoping to lean on Collins-Rector's notoriety to leverage the claim against Singer.
A call to Collins-Rector's former attorney requesting comment revealed that the phone had been disconnected. Collins-Rector's last-known country of residence was the Dominican Republic, address unknown. The allegations in the suit refer to events that happened years ago, and Collins-Rector has long-since served the requirements of his conviction.But it is the lawsuit's description of the interior of Collins-Rector's mansion that will fascinate people who heard the rumors about DEN back in the day. It was a poorly kept secret at the time that Collins-Rector and his friends held parties at their "M&C Estate" that would make Hugh Hefner blush.
His two DEN co-founders were Chad Shackley, then 24, who had lived with Collins-Rector since dropping out of a Michigan high school, and Brock Pierce, then a 17-year-old actor best known for his leading roles in such Disney films as "The Mighty Ducks" and "First Kid."
All three lived in a 12,616-square-foot mansion in Encino, drove a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, wore Armani suits, took spur-of-the-moment vacations to the tropics and threw parties that attracted a young, hip crowd that also defined DEN's target audience.
... Work began in 1998 on its first show, "Chad's World." Produced by the teenage Pierce, the show centered on a 15-year-old from Michigan who questions his sexual orientation and ultimately flees his town's intolerance to move in with a gay couple in a California mansion.
For early financing, majority owner and chairman Collins-Rector turned to high-profile individuals he had come to know in Hollywood, including television actor Fred Savage. Former U.S. Rep. Michael Huffington said he invested $5 million.
Huffington later complained that he was led to believe major companies were investing at the same time he was, and on the same terms--which wasn't true. He also said Collins-Rector traded on his name, describing Huffington as vice chairman although he held no such position.
Collins-Rector initially made his fortune in the tech business as the founder of an early ISP, Concentric Networks. It was acquired by Nextlink Communications for $2.9 billion. Again, the Times picks up the story:
The windfall enabled Collins-Rector and Shackley to pursue a lavish new lifestyle. They bought an enormous RV and traveled the country scouting living locations, settling briefly in Beverly Hills before paying $2.47 million in 1997 for a mansion in Encino.
At one point, Collins-Rector was accused of meeting a 13-year-old boy online. He was sued in a lawsuit in New Jersey federal court, and the case was settled, the LA Times says. Later, federal prosecutors began looking into allegations that Collins-Rector had abused children. VNUNet reported at the time that Collins-Rector was found in Spain:
[He was] arrested in June on an international warrant after being indicted in New Jersey on five counts of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts.
Brock Pierce has never been charged for a crime nor has a warrant ever been issued for him, his representative told Business Insider.*
Today, Collins-Rector remains a registered sex offender but he is not in prison, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records. Fast Company did a nice, long story on Collins-Rector several years ago that is well worth a read.
*Correction: Business Insider would like to make it clear that Pierce was not accused of the crimes charged against Collins-Rector.
Read the lawsuit here: