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Judge lets Nick Carter move forward with counterclaim against alleged rape victim

Updated March 29, 2023 - 2:20 pm

A Las Vegas judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss Nick Carter’s claim that a woman who accused him of sexual assault had defamed him.

Carter was sued in December by Shannon Ruth who accused Carter of raping her while on his tour bus following a Backstreet Boys performance in Tacoma, Washington, when she was 17.

District Judge Nancy Allf allowed the singer’s counterclaim to move forward but did not grant the attorney fees that Carter requested.

Carter appeared in court with his lawyers on Wednesday, but Ruth did not appear in person.

Ruth, now 39, is autistic and has cerebral palsy. Her lawsuit claimed that she contracted a sexually transmitted disease after the alleged assault.

Carter’s counterclaim alleged that Ruth was part of a conspiracy to defame and extort the singer, and that she was recruited by the family of another woman who accused Carter of sexual assault. Ruth’s complaint cost the band at least $2.35 million between December and February due to the cancellation of promotional events, according to the counterclaim.

Ruth’s lawyers filed a motion last month to dismiss Carter’s counterclaim under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP laws, and have alleged that the counterclaim was a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”

Christian Morris, one of Ruth’s lawyers, said Wednesday that Ruth has a right to “free speech” by filing the lawsuit. Ruth’s attorneys have accused Carter of harassing and intimidating Ruth with the counterclaim.

“The danger is that if these laws aren’t upheld, every time someone files a complaint they have to live in fear of a defamation claim back at them, which would prevent anyone from filing a complaint,” Morris said.

Liane Wakayama, an attorney representing Carter, argued during Wednesday’s hearing that the singer should not be prevented from suing Ruth over statements she made before filing her own lawsuit.

“That would mean a party could defame, continuously defame someone, and then claim the privilege years down the road just because they filed a lawsuit,” Wakayama said.

Carter declined to comment following the hearing, and Wakayama said she was “pleased with the result.”

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Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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