On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the big story was on cryptocurrency. He put together a pretty good explanation of what cryptocurrency is and even mentioned a crypto-related musical act — though, we have to say, we prefer the Virtual Currency Girls. In the segment he mentioned cryptocurrency entrepreneur Brock Pierce — and more to the point, he urged his viewers to Google “Brock Pierce Scandal.” But who is Brock Pierce?
We did google it, and it turns out Brock Pierce is an interesting part of the Bryan Singer sexual abuse scandal.
If you haven’t watched the episode yet and don’t have 25 minutes to kill watching the segment, here’s a quick introduction to who is Brock Pierce?
Pierce was a former child actor, appearing in The Mighty Ducks and starring in First Kid. Once he left acting, he went into producing. He joined Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) as an executive vice president and expanded into founding the IMI Exchange, a trading company for in-game currencies from Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (or MMORPGs — games like World of Warcraft).
From there he got interested in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He was elected director of the Bitcoin Foundation in 2014 and is involved with several other cryptocurrencies.
Now that we’re up to speed, let’s circle back and look at the Brock Pierce scandal. His first major post-acting move was joining DEN in 1999. That name may ring a bell for some — DEN, founded by Marc Collins-Rector, became the focal point of a number of controversies. Just prior to DEN’s IPO, a young man identified only as Jake W. filed a lawsuit accusing Collins-Rector of sexually molesting him for three years, beginning in 1993, when W. was only 13. The IPO was cancelled; Collins-Rector, Pierce and Collins-Rector’s partner Chad Shackley resigned; and the company filed for bankruptcy.
When the company collapsed, Collins-Rector, Pierce and Shackley fled the United States after the three men had been accused of sexually abusing, drugging and making violent threats against underage DEN employees. The three were extradited to the United States for charges of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts, however only Collins-Rector was charged.
Another, more famous scandal happened in 2014, long after DEN had filed for bankruptcy. Michael F. Egan III accused Bryan Singer, network exec Garth Ancier, former DisneyTV president and Digital Entertainment Network exec David Neuman and TV writer Gary Goddard of several charges, including drugging, groping and raping him at parties organized by DEN executives.
Though Pierce was involved with DEN — and even named in two civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of underage boys — Pierce was never charged criminally. In 2014, Pierce told Buzzfeed he had not spoken with Collins-Rector in several years. And in that year, when some Bitcoin Foundation executives resigned over Pierce’s election as director, Pierce unequivocally stated the allegations against him are not true.
According to court records, Brock Pierce paid over $21,000 to settle one suit a DEN employee brought against him. Pierce says the other suits were dropped without money changing hands.