"Fallen Idols": 8 of the most shocking revelations from the Nick and Aaron Carter docuseries

Inside the allegations against the Backstreet Boys member, and how his younger brother's story ended in tragedy

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published May 30, 2024 12:56PM (EDT)

Aaron Carter & Nick Carter during 102.7 KIIS-FM's 2002 Wango Tango at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, United States. (SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images)
Aaron Carter & Nick Carter during 102.7 KIIS-FM's 2002 Wango Tango at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, United States. (SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images)

Boy bands like 'NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys rapidly became some of the biggest pop music acts of the '90s and early aughts. However, the instant fame took people like Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter and his brother Aaron Carter to new heights for better or worse.

Investigation Discovery's docuseries about the Carters, "Fallen Idols" pulls back the curtain on youth fame. But the docuseries also exposes decades of pervasive allegations of sexual assault leveled against Nick. Members of girl bands Dream and the Pussycat Dolls detail their troublesome and sometimes violent experiences with Nick. And these aren't the only women who come forth in the documentary with accusations.

While Nick denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, his brother Aaron dealt with a slew of addiction issues. The siblings who once were close had a growing rift that eventually led to the deterioration of their relationship. "Fallen Angels" takes viewers through the allegations against Nick, the response to the women and Aaron's tragic story.

Here are some of the most shocking moments revealed in the docuseries:

Nick Carter is accused of sexual abuse by multiple women
Melissa ShumanActress Melissa Shuman attends the premiere of "Swimfan" at UCLA's Sunset Canyon Recreation Center on August 19, 2002 in Westwood, California. (Robert Mora/Getty Images)
Throughout the docuseries, allegations of sexual misconduct and assault range as far back as Nick Carter's early aughts popstar days in the Backstreet Boys. But mostly the allegations in "Fallen Idols" come from former Dream girl band singer, Melissa Schuman.
Although Nick had shown interest in Schuman while she was in Dream, it wasn't until she left the group to begin an acting career that they interacted. In 2003, both would go on to be in the horror film "The Hollow" when Schuman was 18 and Nick was in his early 20s. She said he invited her to hang out and play video games with friends, and Nick plied her and her underage friend with alcohol and then later sexually assaulted her. When she wanted to file a police report, she was persuaded not to because Nick allegedly had some of the best litigators in the country. Her former manager has now denied that she told him about the alleged assault.
A year later, she would go on to attempt to restart her music career as a solo artist. Her new management, who also worked with Nick, told her that she would have to do a duet with him, but after a chilly recording session, she claims she was dropped. Schuman said looking back now, "It feels almost premeditated, where it was presented as if it was going to actually help me, but in reality, it feels more like an alibi for him.”
Another woman named Ashley, who only shared her first name in the docuseries, was a former friend of Nick's sister Angel. Ashley recalled three sexual encounters with Nick when she was 15 and he was 23 on the Carter family property in Florida. Similar to Schuman's account, Ashley said she was plied with alcohol during each encounter. In 2003, Ashley went to the Florida police to file a report. However, Florida police did not prosecute the case because of conflicting accounts
At the end of the series, a third accuser Shannon "Shay" Ruth, came forward to allege that she also was assaulted by Nick. In 2001, when she was 17-year-old she met Nick after a Backstreet Boys concert. Ruth said that he invited her to his tour bus, plied her with alcohol and assaulted her in the bathroom. Ruth, who also has cerebral palsy and autism, said that Nick allegedly threatened her. “I remember afterward, I told him that I was gonna tell people everything he did, and he starts screaming at me, and he calls me a r******d b**h and he grabs my arm,” she said.
Melissa Schuman was doxxed for speaking out, but Nick's ex believes her
Fallen IdolsKaya Jones in "Fallen Idols" (Investigation Discovery)
Schuman came forward with her alleged experience with Nick through a blog post in 2017. Following the post, Backstreet Boys fans and the Carter camp denied her story and then retaliated.

Nick put out a statement: "Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual. We went on to write a song and perform together."


Other Backstreet Boy members said it was "bogus" and Schuman was a "fame seeker."


However, the reception to Schuman's allegations spiraled with fans online using the hashtag #IStandWithNickCarter. The response worsened when a fan wrote a counter-narrative post, attempting to poke holes in Schuman's story. Nick's "Dancing With The Stars" partner at the time Sharna Burgess, reposted the blog, and it was picked up by news outlets.


This led to YouTubers like Molly Golightly, a Backstreet Boys super fan with 90,000 subscribers, insulting Schuman for years, which she claimed originated from the Carter camp. Schuman's number and address were leaked. Backstreet Boy fans like Molly would say in videos and streams that people would be driving by Schuman's house. Eventually, a photo of Schuman's house was posted, putting her and her family in danger. It pushed her to the point where Schuman called a suicide hotline because she was "overwhelmed and alone."


However, Schuman was supported by Nick's ex-girlfriend and former Pussycat Doll member, Kaya Jones.


"He knows why I left him, and, so do I believe that something horrific happened to that girl? Yes, yes, I do," Jones said. She continued that Nick was never violent with her but she became incredibly distraught recalling a harrowing experience that she chose not to detail in the show. 

Aaron Carter briefly supported his brother's alleged victims
Aaron CarterSinger Aaron Carter performs at the Gramercy Theatre on January 19, 2012 in New York City. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
After the fallout from Schuman's account of the assault, in 2019, Aaron reached out to Schuman and told her that she was not the first person that this had happened to, referencing Ashley. According to Schuman, Aaron “told me he believed me."
Aaron and Schuman went on Instagram Live and openly talked about her alleged experience with his brother. Like Schuman, however, Aaron was also targeted by fervent Backstreet Boy fans who relentlessly harassed him online. His public support of Nick's accusers didn't last for long as Aaron struggled with addiction and substance abuse. Eventually, he recanted his support for Ashley and Schuman towards the last year of his life before his tragic death.
Aaron and Nick both struggled with addiction
Nick Carter; Aaron CarterNick Carter and Aaron Carter speak during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Association press tour for the E Entertainment Network at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on July 11, 2006 in Pasadena, California. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)
"Fallen Idols" reveals that many members of the Carter family struggled with addiction and substance abuse. As the eldest Carter sibling, Nick was responsible for the financial well-being of his family. However, this pressure supposedly led to Nick's struggles with alcohol and substance abuse. There were even whispers of alleged grooming by boy band manager Lou Pearlman but Nick denied these claims. However, Nick went to rehab and cleaned up his public image. 
Despite Nick's progress, Aaron struggled. The immense pressure to measure up to Nick's fame caught up to him. During his stint as the lead on Broadway for "Seussical," an incident occurred where the singer and actor put a knife to his head because his family went on vacation without him. 
As he grew older, Aaron became dependent on aerosol cans and Xanax. He was even huffing paint with his own father, Robert. The family dysfunction worsened when Aaron attempted to file for emancipation from his mother Jane who he accused of embezzling $100,000 from him. Soon after, Aaron eventually dropped the case against his mother. However, Nick and Aaron's relationship deteriorated when their sister Leslie died of an overdose in 2012. Their mother blamed Nick for her death and Nick even publicly blamed himself on and episode of "Dr. Phil," stating he didn't go to the funeral because of the pain. While Nick turned his life around, Aaron's only declined.
Aaron thought that his brother was behind the harassment
Aaron CarterAaron Carter attends WE tv celebrates the premiere of 'Marriage Boot Camp' at SkyBar at the Mondrian Los Angeles on October 10, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (JC Olivera/Getty Images)
Not long after Aaron took up the mantle to support Nick's accusers, Aaron faced a wave of online bullying and harassment. A clip from Instagram Live showed that people would send Aaron aerosol cans to get him to relapse while he was in his recovery.
In another live, Aaron theorized that his family was behind the cyber attacks, saying in an Instagram livestream that Nick “is clearly doing it . . .  It only started when I became a voice for rape victims.”
Aaron even hired a private detective to stop the harassment, who revealed, “He told me he was the victim of harassment. He wanted some help getting it to stop. A lot of this stuff was from a YouTube streamer that goes by the name of Ganval. Ganval calls himself Aaron’s archnemesis.”

The investigator found that there was footage of Ganval and Lauren Kitt Carter, Nick’s wife, on streams together.


“Why would his sister-in-law be online with an individual spending his days trying to troll and harass Aaron?” they questioned. “Unfortunately, there was more. There is actual live footage of Ganval when he received a donation made by Lauren Kitt Carter.”


However, they did not find any evidence that Nick was behind the harassment.

The Carter family tragedy deepens
The Carter FamilyAaron Carter, Bobbie Carter, Leslie Carter, Angel Carter and Nick Carter. (Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
The docuseries shared with viewers that as Aaron struggled with addiction, Nick and Aaron's twin sister Angel, attempted to get him clean and in rehabilitation treatments. However, even when Aaron was clean it was difficult for him to be consistent due to relapses. 
When Aaron relapsed, he began buying numerous guns that he would flash online and on different livestreams. A girlfriend of Aaron's at the time said he would get visions where he would dream about killing Nick's wife and children. Soon after, Nick would file a restraining order against him. Aaron and Schuman were in contact during that time, and they thought the restraining order was filed because of their relationship.
While Aaron would go on to get engaged and have a son, his addiction was still in control of his life. He died from an accidental drowning due to high levels of Xanax and aerosol spray in his system in December 2022.
Not long after in 2023, Nick and Aaron's sister, Bobbie Jean, also died from intoxication from the combined effects of fentanyl and methamphetamine — the third Carter sibling to die from drug abuse.
Nick Carter is sued for sexual battery in 2022
Nick CarterNick Carter of Backstreet Boys performs during the DNA World Tour 2023 at Allianz Parque on January 27, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Mauricio Santana/Getty Images)
In 2022, Ruth became the first person to file a sexual assault lawsuit against Carter.
Ruth is suing Carter for sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress for the 2001 alleged assault in a tour bus when she was 17.

Nick's attorney denied Ruth’s allegations in a statement: “This claim about an incident that supposedly took place more than 20 years ago is not only legally meritless but also entirely untrue. Unfortunately, for several years now, Ms. Ruth has been manipulated into making false allegations about Nick — and those allegations have changed repeatedly and materially over time."

Nick countersues Shay and Schuman, and Schuman files her own suit
Fallen IdolsMelissa Schuman in "Fallen Idols" (Investigation Discovery)
However, in 2023, Nick filed a counterclaim against Ruth, adding Schuman and her father as counter-defendants. Nick is seeking $2.35 million in damages.
In the lawsuit, Nick alleged that the Schumans brought Ruth “into their scheme" and “groomed and coached” her to say she was sexually assaulted. 
The countersuit continued that the alleged accusers and Schuman's father are attempting “conspiracy to defame and vilify Carter and otherwise ruin Carter’s reputation for the purposes of garnering attention and fame and/or extorting money from Carter.”
The judge presiding over the case has allowed the countersuit to move forward. However, all parties deny the allegations. 

Ruth said, “Nobody manipulated me or forced me or planned out any conspiracy or anything else.”


Melissa Schuman said she is suing Nick now because she wants due process and “as of January 2023 I could finally file a lawsuit and attempt to hold him accountable and so I did."


The docuseries also stated that Ashley, the third accuser, is also now suing Nick for sexual assault.


In an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” in May, Nick said for the first time addressing the lawsuits, “There is a legal process happening right now, and I can’t get into too many of the details. But you know what I can say is that I’m really happy with the way things are going and once it’s all done I look forward to finally talking about it."

"Fallen Idols" is now available to stream on Max.

By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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