Nicole Sperling
April 25, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Just weeks before the release of his latest blockbuster, Bryan Singer finds himself at the center of a spiraling legal saga. He’s being sued by Michael F. Egan III, 31, who claims the director sexually assaulted him multiple times back in 1999, when Egan was 15. (On April 21, Egan filed additional suits against three lesser-known Hollywood figures, all of whom he accused of similar abuse.) Singer’s attorney Marty Singer (no relation) has called the claims “absurd and defamatory,” but Twentieth Century Fox — the studio behind the filmmaker’s next feature, X-Men: Days of Future Past, out May 23 — went into immediate crisis-containment mode. Singer was pulled from his scheduled appearance at WonderCon April 19, with writer-producer Simon Kinberg subbing in. The director also dropped out of an MPAA-sponsored creative symposium in Washington, D.C., that VP Joe Biden is expected to attend. Meanwhile, ABC removed Singer’s name from the promos for its new medical drama Black Box, which he executive-produced. “This is a perfect storm: [alleged] bad behavior, a movie coming out, and a real live [accuser] who is willing to put his face to it,” says a veteran production executive. “If you have one of those things, it dies after a week. With all of them, it has the makings of something bigger.” And with Egan and his attorney encouraging other alleged victims to come forward, it’s possible this story is far from over.

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