Unlike his brother Nick, Aaron Carter defended Lou Pearlman to the end.
“Lou gave us all the ability to have lives today,” Aaron said in The Boy Band Con, a 2019 documentary about the allegations of abuse and fraud by the boy band Svengali. “Who knows where I would’ve ended up, man. … In jail?” But while responding to the allegations that Pearlman had sexually abused some of the talent signed, he became noticeably agitated. “Shut up about that,” he said, looking directly at the camera.
There were long-standing allegations against Pearlman while he was alive, namely that he stole earnings from his talent, but worse, that he abused them. Nick, who became The Cute One ™ in the Backstreet Boys by the time he was 12, had to sue his way out of a contract with Pearlman, saying he had withheld millions from the band. The same was true for plenty of the young boys and men scooped up by Pearlman and placed in bands like NSYNC, LFO, or O-Town. Some lesser-known pop stars also alleged sexual assault. (Before he died, Pearlman denied the allegations.)
Aaron was the youngest of Pearlman’s pop creations by far, and at 14 he ended up suing Pearlman in 2002 for stealing his money. Throughout the rest of his life, he still seemed to have so much reverence for his former manager. Pearlman did indeed create the Aaron Carter we knew, a Frankenstein forming his creation into a profitable, approachable, charming, charismatic figure for a younger set of girls to adore.
But Pearlman, in so many ways, also seems like the originator of Aaron’s strife — he brought him money and fame, which lifted Aaron’s family out of poverty too, but he was a manipulative manager who stole from his clients and died in prison. But Aaron still believed Pearlman offered him a better life, even with the unimaginable costs he’d face later on.