Melissa Schuman decided to go public with her rape accusation against Nick Carter to “inspire other victims,” she said Thursday on “The Dr. Oz Show.”
But initially, she was hesitant to share her story.
“I was actually waiting for someone else ― if there was anybody else ― to come forward before me because I didn’t want to be the whistleblower,” said Schuman, a former member of the pop group Dream.
She said a good friend eventually changed her mind.
“She was just like, ‘Melissa, now is the time. There’s been no other time in history that women have been able to stand up and speak out and be able to be supported,’” Schuman recalled.
Schuman published an essay on her personal website earlier this month in which she alleged that the Backstreet Boys star had sexually assaulted her in 2002, when she was 18 and he was 22.
Hearing about the mounting sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein was “a big trigger,” Schuman told host Mehmet Oz.
“I started to notice that I had kind of suppressed a lot of the memories for years with all these other brave women coming forward,” she said in the emotional interview. “I started to notice that I had a lot of anxiety manifesting in my body that was really making it hard for me to just carry on every single day. It was really impacting me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”
Carter released a statement denying Schuman’s accusation shortly after she went public with her story.
“Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual,” the statement read. “We went on to record a song and perform together, and I was always respectful and supportive of Melissa, both personally and professionally. This is the first that I am hearing about these accusations, nearly two decades later. It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm.”
In her essay, Schuman said she told Carter how she felt at the time of the incident.
“I told him I didn’t want to go any further. He didn’t listen. He didn’t care,” she wrote. “He threw me on the bed and climbed on top of me. He was relentless, refusing to take my no’s for an answer. He was heavy, too heavy to get out from under him.”
When Oz asked her what message she would like to send to Carter, Schuman responded, “That I forgive you.”
“I don’t want anything from you. I wish you only the best. I don’t want your money. I didn’t do this to hurt you or your family,” Schuman added. “I did this for me because I needed this healing. I also came forward because I want to inspire other victims ― other people who have been assaulted ― to come forward and know that they have a voice.”
The singer wrote in her essay that her manager at the time, Nils Larsen, discouraged her from pressing charges.
“I was told that [Carter] had the most powerful litigator in the country and I didn’t have the money to pay for an attorney to essentially defend me, if he were to come after me,” she told Oz about her discussion with Larsen.
Watch clips from the interview above.