All About the Nick and Aaron Carter Docuseries Fallen Idols

Few acts are as synonymous with the late-’90s pop boom as the Backstreet Boys. With the release of the quintet’s 1996 self-titled album, which housed now-classic anthems such as "Quit Playin' Games (with My Heart),” the group, comprising members Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, and Kevin Richardson, exploded in Europe before gaining momentum in the U.S. Boosted by Top 40 radioplay and MTV’s era-defining video countdown show Total Request Live, BSB became a massive teen-pop sensation, selling millions of records and earning nine Grammy nominations. To this day, they remain the best-selling boy band of all time.

Unlike their genre contemporaries *NSYNC, BSB stuck around long after their Y2K peak years, continuing to tour, release music, appear in Super Bowl commercials, and generally lean into the nostalgia circuit.

BSB’s decades-long success, however, has not been without controversy, particularly around Nick Carter, the group’s youngest member, who joined  when he was just 13 in 1993. Over the years, the eldest Carter has faced allegations of rape and sexual assault; he has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence and misdemeanor battery. And then there was the extremely fraught relationship between Nick and his late brother, Aaron Carter, who became famous in his own right as a teen-pop singer in the early 2000s but died in 2022 at 34 following his much-documented struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, as well as mental health challenges.

The instability and tragedy surrounding the Carter family, including Nick and Aaron’s parents Robert and Jane, and their siblings (Leslie Carter, who died in 2012 of a drug overdose, Bobbie Jean Carter, who also died of a drug overdose in February of this year, and Aaron’s twin sister Angel Carter), is chronicled in ID’s four-part docuseries, Fallen Idols: Nick And Aaron Carter, which premieres on May 27 and 28. Though it largely focuses on Nick, Fallen Idols lays blame on a number of factors that contributed to the brothers’ challenges: an overly permissive, alcohol-filled home environment, toxic fan culture, infamous Backstreet Boys svengali Lou Perlman, and a music industry replete with double standards that gave in to every whim and entitlement of its successful male performers—even if they might be predators.

All three of Nick’s accusers—former Dream singer Melissa Schuman, Ashley Repp, and Shay Ruth—are interviewed in the series. (The women’s lawsuits are all currently in ongoing litigation.) Additionally, former Pussycat Dolls member Kaya Jones, who dated Nick in the 2000s and spoke out against him in 2017 on Twitter, participated in the docuseries. The trailer opens with her saying: “There’s things that I know about Nick that could burn his house down.” The docuseries also includes interviews with the Carters’ cousin John Spaulding, Aaron’s ex-girlfriend Lina Valentina, and his ex-fiance Melanie Martin, all of whom offer insight into their family dynamic. These interviews paint a picture of Robert Carter as a heavy drinker and negligent father and Jane Carter as a prototypical “stage mom” who was prone to comparing Aaron’s successes to Nick’s, and later, blaming Nick for Leslie’s untimely death.

Robert and Jane did not participate in the docuseries or address these allegations. Their divorce was finalized in 2004.

Looking closely at Aaron’s struggles with mental health and substance abuse, as well as his public support for Nick’s accusers, Fallen Idols examines the rift between brothers and suggests that Aaron’s untimely death was caused in part by bullying and online harassment, allegedly orchestrated by Nick. Nick has denied all of the allegations against him.

Here’s everything you need to know about the docuseries and the revelations it lays bare.

Who are Melissa Schuman, Ashley Repp, and Shay Ruth, and what are their allegations against Nick Carter?

The floodgates opened for Nick Carter when, in 2017, former Dream singer Melissa Schuman, feeling emboldened by the #MeToo movement, published a personal blog recounting how Nick had allegedly raped her in 2003 when they were filming a TV movie, The Hollow.

Schuman recounts how  Dream’s management wanted to pair the band members off with members of other famous teen groups to build publicity. Even though she had a boyfriend, Schuman, then 16, says she was pressured by her label to take a phone call from Nick, which she describes as “uncomfortable.”

Later, when they crossed paths on The Hollow, Schuman wrote that Nick and his friend Tony Bass invited her and a friend over to his apartment for a "casual hangout" in Santa Monica. Upon their arrival, Schuman alleges that Nick made them drinks and asked if she'd like to listen to some solo material. She then claimed that Nick took her into a bathroom, where he forcibly performed oral sex on her, forced her to reciprocate, and eventually moved to a bedroom, where he forced her to have intercourse.

Nick denied Schuman's 2017 allegations, saying in a statement that Schuman had "never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual … It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm."

Schuman, who appears prominently in Fallen Idols, wrote that she had been quite vocal about not wanting to have sex—at 18, the singer was a virgin, and in keeping with her Christian upbringing, had always planned to wait until her wedding night. "I could be your husband," she recounted Nick saying both in the blog and docuseries.

Later, Schuman said she told her then-manager about the alleged rape, but was urged not to press charges or file a police report because it could damage her career. In Fallen Idols, the singer ​​calls the sexual assault “humiliating and gross” and says it “completely changed the course of my life.” Carter has continued to characterize his encounter with Schuman as consensual.

Meanwhile, Ashley Repp, who also appears in Fallen Idols, was a good friend of Aaron’s twin sister Angel, who in the summer of 2003 invited Ashley to stay at the family’s Florida Keys compound when she was 15. While at the compound, which Repp notes had free-flowing alcohol and practically zero parental supervision, Repp says she was repeatedly raped by Nick. In one especially harrowing allegation, Repp talks about Nick letting his friends watch the encounter through a boat skylight.

Fallen Idols also features interviews with Shannon “Shay” Ruth, who filed a lawsuit in December 2022 accusing Nick of assaulting and raping her on a Backstreet Boys tour bus when she was 17 after a 2001 concert in Tacoma, Washington.

Ruth, who has cerebral palsy as well as autism, opens up in her interview about how the singer allegedly became angry when she tried to resist his advances. She says after the encounter, she promised to tell everyone what had transpired. In response, she claims he screamed at her, called her a “retarded bitch,” and threatened: “If you tell anybody, you’ll go to jail.”

Who is Kaya Jones, and what has she said about Nick in the past?

Kaya Jones is a former member of 2000s pop act the Pussycat Dolls. In 2017, after Melissa Schuman published her rape allegations against Nick Carter, Jones took to Twitter in support of Schuman, writing: “Nick Carter was my boyfriend while I was in the Pussycat Dolls. He knew about the abuse I endured and did nothing. I guess I now know why. Disgusting. Disgraceful. Disgusted in my heart. Especially because he was a victim of abuse himself. Shame on you Nick!”

Nick’s childhood hardships come to light as former MTV VJ Dave Holmes recounts in the series: "Nick, from what I understand, saw pop music as his ticket out of a home life that was kind of sketchy." Spaulding also describes the marriage of Nick and Aaron’s parents, his aunt and uncle, as constantly being on the rocks, with Nick coming to stay with his family in Jamestown, New York, for “a couple of years” before relocating to Florida. "I felt responsible for maintaining everybody's happiness," Nick wrote in his 2013 memoir, Facing the Music And Living To Talk About It.

"At night, we'd go to our rooms to get away from the arguing," Nick also wrote in his book. "We could hear things breaking all the time—furniture, glasses, and anything else they could throw. My dad owned a gun and he'd shoot it out the window sometimes when he got really mad. Fear was an everyday part of our household. My dad ruled by intimidation."

"The Carters had financial trouble. And they had financial motivations to put their kids in the business," entertainment journalist Scaachi Koul adds in Fallen Idols.

Jones also connected the abuse she endured during her time in the Pussycat Dolls (an experience she compared to being in a “prostitution ring”) to what she experienced in her relationship with Nick. Also in 2017, she stood up for Schuman, tweeting: “I was vulnerable and in a group which served me abuse daily. Not surprised I fell in love with a predator and had no idea at first. Until we had to meet with his attorney for a sexual abuse case he claimed was a fan. Well Nick that was back in 2004 are you gonna deny this?”

In the trailer for Fallen Idols, Jones opens up about her experience in a relationship with the BSB singer and points out how reality diverged from fantasy: “Nick looks like the perfect, pretty Ken doll. But I know how evil he can be.”

What did Aaron Carter say about the allegations against his brother?

A lot, it turns out.

Fallen Idols’ primary focus is the fraught relationship between brothers, outlining how they were pitted against one another, especially by their own mother as performers and family providers. Jane Carter has not addressed these specific allegations, but she did address her role as their parent in a 2005 interview with ABC: "I sacrificed my whole entire life for that child and to put the other child for the sake of that family.”

"It was never about a mother-son relationship,” Aaron counters on camera in the same 2005 ABC news segment. “It was always about work. Sometimes I would stop and be like, 'mom, why can't we just fight about me being a teenager and me growing up?' It was all about money."

The docuseries points to an infamous scene in the 2006 E! reality series House Of Carters where Nick and Aaron get into a physical altercation ostensibly over Aaron’s playing music late at night. As the rest of the family tries to break up the fight, Aaron screams that Nick is “not a good person, and everybody knows it.” Very soon after, the brothers embrace and apologize.

This is one brief example of the love-hate, push-pull, chronically feuding relationship between Nick and Aaron, who is described as “sensitive” in Fallen Idols. Prior to his death, Aaron had publicly come out in defense of Schuman on Instagram Live in 2019. In response, Nick filed a restraining order against Aaron, posting a Notes statement to Twitter citing Aaron’s “increasingly alarming behavior and his recent confession that he harbors thoughts and intentions of killing my pregnant wife and unborn child, we were left with no choice but to take every measure possible to protect ourselves and our family.” (At the time, Carter was expecting his second child with wife Lauren Kitt.) The note did not mention anything about Schuman’s allegations or Aaron’s support of her.

At the time, TMZ reported that the restraining order filing stated that Aaron allegedly told his twin sister Angel in a FaceTime about having violent thoughts about “killing babies” and killing Kitt. The court documents also had Nick alleging that Aaron owned six “readily available” firearms.

In addition to his Instagram Live with Schuman, Aaron had been tweeting about Nick’s alleged history of violence against women and preying on underage girls. After the restraining order was filed, Aaron suggested that it was really an act of retaliation “because I live streamed with one of his accusers.”

But as the docuseries illustrates, Aaron’s speaking out on behalf of Schuman prompted a massive wave of online harassment, bullying, and doxxing, all of which appeared to cause him significant emotional distress. At different points, Aaron, who was still battling his addictions, fighting to regain custody of his son, Prince, would retract his accusations against his brother.

What new information about the Carters does Fallen Idols reveal?

While Fallen Idols does retread familiar territory, it digs much deeper and offers contextual support to existing headlines—from the sexual assault and rape allegations against Nick and his pattern of abuse toward women to the overall Carter family dynamic.

In lengthy interviews with Schuman, Repp, and Ruth, Fallen Idols traces each woman’s individual interactions with Nick, often in excruciating detail.

For starters, Schuman gets into the traumatic aftermath of her alleged assault, saying, “I was in such a place of denial. Then I received a text message from Nick that read, ‘Why did you make me do that?’ That text message freaked me out. I confided in my manager about going to the police and reporting the crime. He told me, ‘[Nick] has the most powerful litigator in the country.'”

In a statement to filmmakers, Schuman’s previous manager denied that Schuman told him about the alleged assault. The docuseries also notes that Nick has said that his encounter with Schuman was “consensual.” His friend Tony Bass corroborated his account.

Schuman also discusses how she opted not to do a rape kit because she couldn’t face what had happened. She says she got through the rest of filming The Hollow and changed her number, swearing to avoid Nick at all costs. Her plan hit a snag when she signed with Kenneth Crear’s management company, not realizing that the producer had a longstanding friendship with Nick Carter.

According to Schuman, Crear asked her to sing a duet with Nick, “There For Me.” “My first thought was, ‘Do I have to be alone with him?’ and Kenneth goes, ‘Oh, no, it’s already pre-recorded. You only have to go in and do your part,’” she says. But Schuman was forced to be onstage with Nick to sing their duet at a Sony Records showcase. “When the showcase happened, I remember seeing him and I froze,” she says. “I was very cold to him. I don’t even think I looked at him. Eventually he goes, ‘Well, clearly we don’t like each other.’ And those were the last words he said to me.”

Crear eventually told Schuman that Sony had declined to work with her any further because she’d been “vocally weak.”

Schuman continues: “When I look back at this song now, it feels almost premeditated where it was presented like it was going to actually help me. But in reality it feels more like an alibi for him.”

Meanwhile, in Jones’ interview, the former Pussycat Dolls singer tells interviewers about Schuman: “I saw a young woman try to speak and someone who thought he had more power and authority try to shut her up. He knows what I know. He knows why I left him. So do I believe that something horrific happened to that girl? Yes, yes I do.”

Also in her interview, Jones recounts moving in with Nick after four days of dating. Though she says he was “never physically violent” with her, she describes his anger manifesting in other ways, including punching walls. Jones also recalls an incident leading to the couple’s split, where Nick allegedly showed her pornography and repeatedly asked her to “do this for me,” becoming “very nasty very quickly” when she refused.

Fallen Idols also conducts a lengthy interview with Repp, who recounts how, when the singer first approached her when she was 15 and he was 23, “I had no clue what I was doing. I had never even kissed a guy… I felt so drunk and out of my mind. He was sloppily drunk too,” Repp claimed. “Then we ended up having sex. I was just so uncomfortable and I remember thinking that it hurt.”

Repp also remembers wondering if Nick would apologize to her before she left to go home. Instead, she says, “He poured us a drink then he asked me to perform oral sex on him, which I declined multiple times. He kept at me. I eventually gave in, and we proceeded to have sex again. He never used protection, and it was very abrupt.”

Repp, who was the same age as Aaron, also talked about her friendship with the younger Carter brother, saying, “He knew about the incidents with Nick and he was always just really sweet. We did end up having a romantic relationship but ultimately we decided it was better if we were just good friends.”

As the unwanted incidents with Nick added up, she said “Aaron could tell that something was wrong with me. Aaron was very kind to me. He didn’t have a great relationship with his brother at that time because what he said were other similar events with his brother and younger girls.”

Since her participation in Fallen Idols, Repp officially sued Nick in August 2023, alleging sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Nick’s lawyer has denied the allegations.

Finally, Fallen Idols contains the most comprehensive version of Shay Ruth’s allegations against Nick and details how she needed extensive trauma therapy to unearth memories of the 2001 assault. Her lawsuit was the first of the three—Schuman and Repp’s followed after (Repp went by “A.R.” at the time). Because Ruth couldn’t recall all of the details at the time of her deposition, prosecutors declined to file charges.

Nick, meanwhile, countersued on the grounds that Schuman and Repp have “orchestrated” their allegations as part of a “plan to garner fame and extort Carter out of money.”

How does the docuseries tie the allegations against Nick to Aaron’s death?

Fallen Idols looks at toxic fan culture and bullying as potentially contributing to Aaron’s death in 2022. Throughout each episode, Backstreet Boys “superfans” speak to the filmmakers, defending Nick.

After publicly defending Schuman, Aaron underwent so much harassment by fans—who appeared to be rooting for him to relapse, with one even sending him a can of air duster in the mail—that he hired a private investigator, convinced Nick was behind the cyber attacks. (Aaron had a documented history of being addicted to huffing inhalants.)

"A lot of [the cyberbullying] was from [a social media user named] Ganvel, who calls himself Aaron’s archnemesis,” says Jennifer Huffman, the private investigator. “Aaron believed his family was behind it.” It turns out that “Ganvel'' had a proven connection to Nick’s wife, Lauren Kitt, who can be seen donating money to Ganvel in one video.

Schuman was also the subject of bullying and online harassment, specifically from a YouTuber called "MollyGoLightly," who claimed not to be a Backstreet Boys fan. As Schuman's father Jerome tells filmmakers, other MollyGoLightly videos demonstrated that she did in fact have a deep connection to the Carter camp. MollyGoLightly pops up intermittently throughout the series; resurfaced videos show her with Aaron in which she claims to be his life coach. At the time, Aaron had walked back his support of Schuman.

What has the Carter family said about the docuseries?

A note at the end of Fallen Idols states that Nick has “denied the allegations and questions his accusers’ credibility.” The singer also declined to be interviewed for the documentary.

Meanwhile, in a statement to Us Weekly, Nick’s attorney Dale Hayes, Jr. said: “These are exactly the same outrageous claims that led us to sue this gang of conspirators. Those cases are working their way through the legal system now, and, based on both the initial court rulings and the overwhelming evidence, we have every belief that we will prevail and hold them accountable for spreading these falsehoods.”

Likewise, in response to the claims in Fallen Idols, Nick’s legal team provided an extensive number of documents that are currently on the website

What have Backstreet Boys said about the allegations against Nick Carter?

After Ruth came forward, AJ McLean said that the Backstreet Boys were supportive of Nick, telling the Daily Mail, “We all stand behind Nick, and we all fully support him. He’s doing as great as he can. [Backstreet Boys] couldn’t be more solid.”

Where do the lawsuits against Nick currently stand?

Though the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to pursue criminal charges against Nick in response to Schuman's 2018 lawsuit because the statute of limitations had expired, Schuman did file a civil lawsuit in April 2023.

Prior to Schuman’s civil suit, Carter filed a defamation counter lawsuit for $2.3 million against all three women, denying the accusations made against him and claiming that they are part of a wider conspiracy to harass him.

As of January 2024, a Los Angeles judge denied Nick's bid to dismiss Schuman's lawsuit on the grounds that the claim actually belongs in Las Vegas, where his defamation suit is ongoing. “I just want to show him that I’m not scared," Schuman told Rolling Stone. I’m not intimidated. That everything that they’ve put me through ever since I came forward isn’t working on me. I’m not backing down. I’m not going away. I’m not staying silent. I will fight for justice."

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