Justin Bieber's hit song "Baby" may be taking on an entirely different new meaning. The 17-year-old pop megastar is facing allegations that he fathered a child with one of his fans, according to reports by Radar. Bieber's legal team swiftly denied the claims. Still, what are the details of the allegations, and what exactly does Team Bieber have to say about them? Here, a brief guide:
What are the allegations?
A 20-year-old female Justin Bieber fan alleges that she despoiled the erstwhile virgin backstage at a Los Angeles concert last year, and that the singer is the father of her three-month-old baby, Radar first reported Wednesday. Mariah Yeater says Bieber propositioned her on October 25 of last year, when she was 19 and he was 16. She has filed a paternity suit in a California court; her claims are made in a "hand-signed affidavit, sworn under the penalty of perjury." Tristyn Anthony Markhouse Yeater's birth date, July 6, 2011, "was exactly 36 weeks and two days after the sexual encounter with Justin Bieber," Yeater says. Based on that timing, she asserts that "there were no other possible men that I had sex with that could be the father of this baby."
How did they meet?
According to reports, Yeater alleges that she was "whisked away by security guards" to meet the pop star after his concert at Los Angeles' Staple Center. "Immediately, it was obvious that we were mutually attracted to one another, and we began to kiss," Yeater allegedly says in the paternity suit. She claims that Bieber then suggested they go to a private place to be alone, and that he didn't want to use protection because it was his first time having sex. The tryst "was brief," Yeater says, "lasting only approximately 30 seconds."
Is Yeater essentially admitting to statutory rape?
The allegations are certainly "further complicated" by the age difference between Bieber and Yeater, says People. The age of consent in California is 18, but the teen idol was 16 at the time of the alleged encounter, raising the question as to whether Yeater could be charged with statutory rape if Bieber is indeed the father. Responding to that possibility, California defense lawyer Steve Cron tells The New York Post that under normal circumstances, prosecutors would let that age difference slide. "But under these circumstances, the DA’s office has to show they’re not treating women differently, not treating a celebrity differently, [and] they might have to do something.”
What does Bieber's camp say?
In a statement to E! Online, Bieber's team denied the allegations. "While we haven't yet seen the lawsuit, it's sad that someone would fabricate malicious, defamatory, and demonstrably false claims," the statement reads. "We will vigorously pursue all available legal remedies to defend and protect Justin against these allegations." They also say Bieber and Yeater could not possibly have been alone backstage at the concert in question. For his part, the singer blithely tweeted to his nearly 14 million followers: "so Im going to ignore the rumors…and focus on what is real. and opportunity to help by doing what i love. Judge me on the music! Love y'all!"
How damaging is this?
Whether or not the claims are true, says Jen Chaney at The Washington Post, they mark the first time that Bieber has found himself mired in a true scandal — which is remarkable given his high profile. Before this, the "wholesome kid" hasn't been linked to anything "much more controversial than a water balloon fight and some public kissing with girlfriend Selena Gomez." But given Team Bieber's forceful denials, it's likely that these accusations "will not tarnish Bieber's reputation." Not everyone agrees, however. "Anything besides puppy love… is unacceptable for the Tiger Beat crowd," says Molly Lambert at Grantland. This could seriously hurt the star.
Star's executive editor Dylan Howard, who has seen the legal papers, tells CBS News that the affidavit requests that the court compel Bieber to undergo DNA testing "to prove, indeed, that he is the father of baby Tristan." Yeater is also asking for child support, effectively immediately, Howard says. A court hearing is set for December.