Sounds like it’s past time for Jimmy Fallon and others to answer some really difficult questions.
Last August a woman filed a lawsuit against NBC and Horatio Sanz, claiming the comic had groomed her as a teen while she ran a Saturday Night Live fan page, plied her with drugs and alcohol, and eventually sexually assaulted her, all before she turned 18.
You can read all about her extensive claims in the suit HERE.
Now for the first time Jane Doe is speaking out in an interview series with The Daily Beast. And the first thing she has to say? She isn’t happy with how the press covered the lawsuit last summer.
The way she sees it, the press seemed to see a simple #MeToo story about a former SNL cast member and covered it as such — if they even bothered with it as Sanz is far from a big name these days. What they failed to focus on was the fact he was only one of two defendants in the case. She reminded:
“The first defendant is NBC.”
Why sue the network? Jane explains:
“Horatio certainly is the main character here, but he didn’t abuse me in a vacuum; he abused me all over Saturday Night Live.”
She says Sanz first contacted her alongside Fallon, his writing partner with whom he shared an office. They emailed her together “from an NBC email account” when she was just 15 years old, according to her suit, after seeing her online fandom. (Sanz was 31 at the time, Fallon would have been about 26.) She says eventually the two stars started getting her into the legendary SNL afterparties — where she was allegedly given drugs and alcohol despite being only 16 years old.
See the issue? Per her account, these parties were full of people who witnessed what she’s describing, including the underage drinking AND Sanz very much treating her as his date, including seating her on his lap with his hand around her hips.
Jane’s friend who attended the party with her corroborated this story, telling DB she personally witnessed Jane and Sanz “behaving like a couple” in full view of everyone. With a 16-year-old girl? And no one said anything? It raises serious questions, doesn’t it?
Fallon in particular has the most to answer for in that regard. Not only was he apparently Horatio’s wingman in all this (gross), he was allegedly just as aware of Jane’s age. In her suit, she recalls specifically discussing her high school year with the future Tonight Show host, and him specifically acknowledging:
“So you have a few years before you graduate.”
She says he even discussed her upcoming SATs with her.
Jane says Fallon was her idol at the time, that it was his involvement that brought her into Sanz’s hands.
As far as how much he knew about the growing relationship between her and Sanz, she can’t be sure. But she wants to know. She says:
“I don’t know how many people knew that Horatio was sexting me regularly. I don’t know how much of our conversations happened when he was in his office at NBC, which he shared with Jimmy Fallon… But I know that I deserve to know.”
Melissa, another friend of Jane’s from the early 2000s online SNL fandom community, says her early experiences mirror Jane’s. She ran a Horatio Sanz fansite, and he allegedly reached out. He asked her numerous times, she says, to describe herself and about whether she had a boyfriend. She even provided a log of messages from when she was just 16 to DB. Per their reporting, he even sent her gifts, including tickets to the 2002 Olympics award ceremony where the Foo Fighters were playing. She told the outlet this wasn’t a request, it was an enticement:
“I definitely didn’t ask for the Foo Fighters tickets. Like, I distinctly remember I was kind of a music snob and I was like, ‘Ugh, the Foo Fighters.’”
However, Melissa lived across the country, so regularly attending SNL parties was never an option.
For Jane, this seemed like the perfect foot in the door, she recalls, for her dream of working on SNL — but Sanz ruined it:
“I really felt as though some day, this is gonna be a career path for me. It was very important to me, I guess, to not be thought of as a little kid or a little teenager. And so it really, really profoundly messed with my psyche that in order for people at SNL to treat me like an equal, I had to be sitting there with Horatio’s arm around me.”
How did she even get away with attending these late night bashes? She reveals:
“I started lying to my mom constantly… because I thought that I was gonna work for Saturday Night Live someday. I just had to be cool… This is how you network.”
“Networking” for Jane turned out to involve Horatio calling her pet names and treating her like his girlfriend. She began isolating from her high school friends and spending more and more time with the SNL cast, something she looks back on as intensely problematic:
“I felt like I had been sort of groomed by Horatio into thinking that I was more mature than kids my age. Because I was cool enough to be hanging out with all of these adults at SNL. It wasn’t long before all of my friends were SNL people that I knew online or knew from parties… And I was much younger than most of them.”
And as far as she’s concerned, knowing her age and her ambitions, Sanz must have known exactly how he was using her. As she puts it:
“It was such a disgusting, warped thing for him to do. To sort of play to my ambitions, or ego, or whatever it was, to make a child feel like they shouldn’t be attempting to seek out friendship with their peers anymore because they’re just so ‘mature’ that they should continue fostering a secret friendship with a 32-year-old adult man.”
Jane’s school friend Katherine spoke to DB, recalling going to one of these parties — where her teen BFF and SNL star Horatio Sanz “were definitely cuddly and arms around each other”:
“And for all intents and purposes, as an outsider, as a 17-year-old, and from me and Jane talking, they were a couple to me… They were dating in some capacity, and I’m like, ‘Look at how cool Jane is for dating this older guy.'”
She also recalls attending an after-afterparty where Sanz brought several other young female guests — and gave them roses. Double ew.
Katherine says while at this party an unnamed “high profile SNL cast member” put his hand on her leg and told her she was beautiful, causing her to retreat. Despite being intensely flattered, she remembers feeling confused:
“I look back now and I’m like, ‘Why would any famous person entertain us?’ ‘Why would they even give us the time of day?’ And it’s because they were predatory.”
She felt “lucky” to go to the party at the time, she says, but now, looking back on it from her mid-30s, she’s convinced it wasn’t a happy accident that they were there as underage girls. She says:
“And now looking back, I will say that they knew what they were doing. They knew it was inappropriate. 30-some, 40-some-year-old men know that I look nothing… I looked like a baby at 17.”
Jane came to think of her SNL experience differently much sooner.
She didn’t speak much about the alleged assault to Daily Beast. It’s all in the text of the lawsuit, which says multiple NBC employees were witness to Sanz “kissing her, groping her breasts, groping her buttocks, and digitally penetrating her genitals forcibly and without Plaintiff’s consent.” All when she was still 17 years old. She says Sanz victim-blamed her after that, calling her a “slut.”
Jane shut down her fan site after that. She said it was devastating:
“I put so much work into this, and then I’m just ‘the party slut.'”
Jane kept quiet about the assault, thinking she had to. The scars from how she was treated stayed with her for years below the surface.
“Horatio had sort of set me up to only trust him, and only rely on him, and internalize all the shame, and internalize all the secrecy, and not tell anyone what was going on with me.”
She remembers it pretty much ruined her college years, too:
“I spent all of my time in my dorm room by myself, doing any kind of self-medicating drug I could find.”
Meanwhile Sanz has seemingly not yet faced any consequences. His career is still going strong; he was even in last year’s children’s film Clifford.
Fallon isn’t even facing the minuscule online backlash as Sanz is — as no one is reporting his part in all this. And that has been a huge blow, she says:
“I see the lack of accountability in my own case, and it just viscerally frightens me because I have a thorough admission of guilt, I have mountains of evidence, and I’ve come forward. And many people with many, many millions of dollars and huge platforms, who saw this happen, have had no interest so far in coming forward.”
Jane says she used to make excuses for the people who worked at SNL who must not have known how to handle what they were seeing, or what to do about it. But that’s changed now, as not one person has come forward to corroborate her story:
“I feel less generous toward everyone at SNL. I feel less generous toward the cast and I feel every day more and more inclined to speak up and speak out, because people who have admitted to grooming and sexually assaulting children should not get to get away with that.”