During a panel discussion on The Meredith Viera Show today about Ashley Judd’s recent comments on sexual harassment in Hollywood, former ‘N SYNC member Lance Bass revealed that when he was a teen, “someone” who worked with the boy band inappropriately touched him.
“This also happens to men, too,” he said. “It has happened to me. When I was 16, 17 years old, and we started, there was someone that we worked with that was inappropriately touching us.”
“I was even aware then, at 16, that this guy was a pedophile,” Bass continued. “He was touching me oddly.”
He added that he didn’t feel “victimized” by the man because he and the other ‘N SYNC members would discuss his actions together. “With the guys we would kind of talk about it, joke about, but it’s not a joking thing...I’m glad that we were aware of it and we didn’t feel victimized at the time,” he said.
Several men have accused Lou Pearlman—the former manager of ‘N SYNC and the Backstreet Boys, among other boy bands—of sexual harassment over the years. These allegations are most explicitly detailed in a 2007 Vanity Fair piece about Pearlman titled, “Mad About the Boys.” Though Bass didn’t name Pearlman in his statements today, he has previously said that Pearlman touched him and other ‘N SYNC members.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year, Bass said Pearlman would “always grab our arms and feel our muscles and go: ‘Hey boys, you workin’ out? Yeahhhh!’” He added that Pearlman never “crossed that line” with him, but that he heard rumors about him molesting other boys:
We would hear things, for sure. He would always have young boy limo drivers for Trans Continental Records; those limo drivers would always be put into different boy bands. Then I’d hear rumors that he would molest the boys before they would even get into the groups. I don’t know how much of that is true, but to me, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
For his part, Pearlman has denied all allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. He is currently serving a 25-year sentence for embezzlement.