Former SNL superfan who recently settled underage abuse lawsuit against Horatio Sanz describes her emotional journey

The woman told her story to ABC News' Nightline in her first TV interview.

The first time Jane Doe saw Saturday Night Live, she was hooked.

"Immediately I thought it was the most magical thing in the world that so late at night, when I normally had to be in my bed, all the grownups were on TV doing funny things," she said to ABC News in her first television interview.

After watching one episode, Jane Doe began dreaming of working on the fabled SNL set. But she said her feelings about SNL were forever changed six years later, after then-SNL cast member Horatio Sanz allegedly sexually assaulted her at an SNL after-after-party in May of 2002.

Jane Doe had set up an online fan site around SNL and its stars in the late 1990s, which she said became a destination for other fans of the show.

"People sort of all over the world, you know, would send me emails and stuff. So it was like a very exciting little project that I got to do as a kid," Jane Doe told ABC News.

And from 2000 to 2002, Jane Doe attended as many live tapings of SNL as possible -- attending the show's infamous parties as well.

In a lawsuit filed in 2021, Jane Doe, who asked that her name not be used, accused Sanz of "kissing her, groping her breasts, groping her buttocks, and digitally penetrating her genitals forcibly and without consent" at one of those parties. The lawsuit also named NBC as a defendant and alleged that the network "created an environment which permitted the sexual harassment and assault committed by defendant Sanz."

Last August, Jane Doe's lawyer, Susan Crumiller, filed a motion seeking permission from the court to file an amendment to the lawsuit with new details and allegations. The court had not ruled on that motion when the case was settled last November, with the defendants making no admission of wrongdoing.

A spokesperson for NBC says the organization "denied Jane Doe's allegations against the company and asked the court to dismiss the case. The parties have since resolved the matter and moved on." Sanz's lawyers said he continues to deny all allegations.

In her first television interview, Jane Doe talked about the case and gave ABC News photos from her time as an SNL superfan who, at the same time, she says, was in an inappropriate relationship with Sanz, who she says groomed and later molested her.

'I don't want be here'

According to the complaint, on the night of the alleged assault, Jane Doe attended two SNL after-parties. She remembers the first party being a "star-studded" event. She rode to the first party in a limousine with Sanz.

Horatio Sanz in the limo.
Obtained by ABC News
Jane Doe took this photo while in the limo with Horatio Sanz.
Obtained by ABC News

"The cast of [the NBC sitcom] Scrubs was there, and we got to talk to some of them," Jane Doe said. Paparazzi photos from that night show Zach Braff and Donald Faison attending the first party at the restaurant Barolo in New York.

Zach Braff and Donald Faison seen in a paparazzi photo outside Barolo restaurant in New York after midnight on May 11, 2002.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images, FILE
Horatio Sanz seen in a paparazzi photo outside Barolo restaurant after midnight on May 11, 2002.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images, FILE

Jane Doe also took a photo of Braff at the event and provided it to ABC News' Nightline for the first time.

A photo Jane Doe took of Zach Braff at an SNL After-Party after midnight on May 11, 2002.
Obtained by ABC News

Jane Doe said that she, then 17, and Sanz sat at a central booth as SNL cast members walked by and spoke to them. "Horatio had his arm around me during the whole party ... It was this really positive experience for me at the time because I thought, you know, he was gonna be my boyfriend or something," she told ABC News.

Jane Doe with Horatio Sanz inside Barolo at the SNL after-party after midnight on May 11, 2002.
Obtained by ABC News

Afterward, Jane Doe said she and Sanz left that party and relocated to an after-after-party at a loft downtown at Tracy Morgan's invitation. However, she said that after-after-party was "categorically different."

"Everyone refers to it as the Tracy Party," Jane Doe said. In his memoir "I am the New Black," Morgan wrote about a party thrown by his acquaintances, describing the space as "an illegal strip club" where some attendees could drink and engage in sexual acts. A court document alleges that it was the same party Jane Doe attended.

Jane Doe says that after continuing to receive alcohol from Sanz at the after-after-party, they started kissing. But when more members of the SNL cast entered the party, she says she asked Sanz to stop.

"I kept saying to him ... I feel weird. Can we go somewhere? We should leave. I don't want to be here," she said.

Jane Doe alleges that Sanz refused and repeatedly encouraged her to continue. Then, according to the lawsuit, Sanz groped her breasts in front of everyone.

Jane Doe said that some SNL cast and crew members looked on and laughed.

"That was the most traumatic part of it because they were my role models," she said.

According to the lawsuit, someone eventually came over to the pair and said "Are you ----ing serious?" In the proposed amendment to the lawsuit, Jane Doe says Sanz then escorted her out of the party and went with her in a cab so she could get a train home. She says she passed out drunk on the way.

"The cab came to a halting stop and the stop woke me up ... and he was on top of me," Jane Doe told ABC News.

According to the lawsuit, a friend recalled Jane Doe telling her about the incident, saying, "I remember Horatio once trying with you."

"Twenty years later, she remembered me saying to her 'Oh, I'm so glad I wore pantyhose 'cause it stopped the action from happening,'" Jane Doe said.

Jane Doe did not say that intercourse was part of the alleged assault.

Days after the alleged assault, Jane Doe posted on her fan site that she would no longer be keeping up with SNL. But according to the lawsuit she stayed in contact with Sanz and attended a few more after-parties as his guest. She said she used drugs at those parties and was served alcohol even though she was underage.

Eventually, she stopped attending the parties as her college years began.

First visits

Jane Does says the first time she met any SNL cast member was at a book signing hosted by Jimmy Fallon in 1999. That same year, she created the fan site around SNL and its cast members.

Jane Doe provided photos of the book signing event to ABC News' Nightline.

Jane Doe in 1999 at a book signing for Jimmy Fallon's "I Hate This Place."
Obtained by ABC News

A year later, she began going to live tapings of SNL, and at the first show she attended she says she met both Fallon and Sanz.

"[Horatio and I] had instant chemistry the first time that we met," Jane Doe told ABC News. She was fifteen at the time. "In hindsight, it was totally inappropriate. It was totally disgusting ... For him to be gently touching me in certain ways, like his hand on the small of my back, or just, like, letting his fingers linger a little bit longer."

Jane Doe meeting Horatio Sanz during her first trip to SNL in 2000.
Obtained by ABC News
Jane Doe meeting Jimmy Fallon during her first trip to SNL in 2000.
Obtained by ABC News

Jane Doe said she continued going to tapings of the show, picking up tickets in the standby line and chatting with cast members who would come by before the show. She said that at one point her fan site was hacked, and she soon received an email from Fallon encouraging her to stay positive and complimenting her website. She says Fallon included a P.S. message from Horatio Sanz.

"Hey Jane!" it said. "You did a great website so don't worry about those losers! YOU ARE COOL!"

Doe says she does not have a copy of the 20-year-old email exchange.

"I already thought that he [Sanz] might sort of have a little crush on me, because when he and Jimmy emailed me, he told me I was so cool in all caps with 20 exclamation points," she said.

In August of 2001, Jane Doe says she was contacted by a friend who had been messaged by someone on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) claiming to be Sanz. The friend asked Jane Doe to confirm that the person using the screenname "Marblechomper" was indeed Sanz. The lawsuit alleges that after Jane Doe messaged "Marblechomper" and confirmed that it was the comedian, Sanz asked her to keep their communications a secret.

According to the lawsuit, the message read, "It's me, the real deal ... don't tell anybody. Promise?"

According to Jane Doe, she and Sanz began instant messaging frequently, so much so that Jane Doe said she would message Sanz on AIM as soon as she got home from school each day. The lawsuit alleges that in the messages, Sanz "steered conversations to discuss sex, sexual experiences, sexual activities, sexual fantasies, masturbation and Sanz's instruction of Jane Doe in sexual acts."

"He would use humor in our conversations to steer things in a sexual way," Jane Doe said. "And I was like, 'Oh, I'm cool. I'm gonna go along with a joke about d--ks.' And we would riff about sexual things."

Jane Doe was not able to provide any sexually explicit instant messages from when she was a minor, telling ABC News the hard drive she kept them on got refurbished in 2004, which may have deleted them.

According to the complaint, Sanz would also repeatedly ask Jane Doe for photos of herself. Eventually, after sending several conventional photos to Sanz, Jane Doe said that she sent a photo with a low-cut shirt to appear "sexy."

Part of the 'in' crowd

SNL after-parties have been an infamous staple of the variety show since the 1970s and 80s. After the show ended each week, the cast, crew, and other invited celebrities would go to a venue to blow off steam and party.

The after-after-parties sometimes followed the after-party, and they would often start at 4 a.m. when the after-party was over. On a 2015 episode of Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, an online talk show, Sanz said that he was the one who resurrected the after-after-parties in the early 2000s.

"Because I had heard about the legendary parties of the 70s, I wanted to bring that back," he told host Samm Levine. "That go all night thing. That raw kind of chaotic situation. So that's what I was trying to bring to the show."

In her complaint, Jane Doe says she went to her first after-party when she was 16. She recalls being in the basement of a bar and claims that even though she had no ID, she was still served alcohol.

In photos first provided to ABC News' Nightline, Jane Doe can be seen with multiple cast members at the time, including Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, and Tracy Morgan.

Jane Doe with Rachel Dratch.
Obtained by ABC News
Jane Doe with Tina Fey.
Obtained by ABC News
Jane Doe with Tracy Morgan.
Obtained by ABC News

At one such party, Jane Doe said Jimmy Fallon introduced her to SNL creator Lorne Michaels.

"Jimmy Fallon introduced me to Lorne Michaels by my first and last name, and reminded Lorne Michaels what my website was," Jane Doe told ABC News.

Jane Doe with Lorne Michaels, undated.
Obtained by ABC News

As she grew closer to Sanz, Jane Doe said Sanz positioned himself as a mentor and an older-brother figure.

Jane Doe continued going to the after-parties and attended a few after-after-parties, usually as a guest of Sanz. She said that before she was allegedly assaulted, she found the after-parties "remarkable."

"It would be filled with celebrities and just people having fun and having a good time and everyone, like, really letting loose," she said. "I remember parties where all of a sudden, they're going to sing live. And it's Jimmy Fallon and Dan Aykroyd or someone and they're playing music live for everyone at a little bar."

'That would be really healthy for me'

Prior to the alleged assault, Jane Doe says that for years, she had wanted to go to New York University and apply to be an intern for SNL. But she says she ultimately opted to attend college away from New York City to distance herself from the show.

Although she says freshman year went well for her, Jane Doe says she was still messaging Sanz frequently.

By sophomore year, Jane Doe said her mental health was declining and she had started detaching herself from her friends and smoking weed in her room constantly.

Her depression got so bad that at one point she contemplated suicide, she said.

"I went to the store one day to get a rope to hang myself, but the hardware store was closed, so I just got ice cream and candy and ate as much as I could. I'm really glad that hardware store was closed that day," she said.

As her depression continued to worsen, Jane Doe said she suffered a drug-induced psychotic break and was hospitalized. The lawsuit alleges that this was a result of "the ongoing intense shame and damage Plaintiff suffered due to the sexual conduct by Sanz."

During this time, Jane Doe said she was still communicating with Sanz and occasionally saw him in person.

"I have saved journal entries where I talk about, 'If I can just go 20 days without instant messaging [Raj, a nickname for Horatio], that would be really healthy for me,'" she said.

A page in Jane Doe's diary is shown.
Obtained by ABC News

Jane Doe says that she tried to talk to Sanz about the alleged assault on several occasions during their ongoing conversations, but he dismissed her questions every time.

And she says she had no idea what Sanz was doing in private while they were chatting online.

'If you want to #metoo me, you have every right'

In her lawsuit against Sanz, Jane Doe alleges that during one encounter in 2019, Sanz "admitted" to her that "he masturbated during their conversations when she was underage." Jane Doe said that in the 20 years that she had known him, she never knew that he was masturbating while they were chatting online.

"Even in conversations where I opened up to him that I had been hospitalized, and that I had had a drug induced psychosis, and that I was on heavy medication, and, you know, doing horribly, he only used that conversation as an opportunity to steer me toward something that he could masturbate to," she said.

She claims that she reached out to friends from high school about their memories of her relationship with Sanz, and one responded, "When the #MeToo movement first started, I thought of you."

Jane Doe said after doing research on grooming, she went into a "dark spiral" when she realized she had been groomed, and after that she didn't leave her room for months.

Susan Crumiller, Jane Doe's attorney, said that it took Jane Doe several years to come to that realization because she didn't understand what had happened was wrong.

"She struggled to comprehend it, and she lacked a framework for understanding, as a lot of sexual assault victims do. It's very, very common for sexual assault victims, especially children, to try to make sense of what happened to them," Crumiller told ABC News. "She felt guilty. I mean she felt responsible. She thought, 'Oh, I f----d up."

"I've known this guy for 20 years. I think of him as an old friend ... it's very hard to sever that connection in your brain," Jane Doe told ABC News. "You're not just realizing that you have an abuser, you're mourning a close friendship."

Jane Doe said that later that year, she drunkenly confronted Sanz via text message. In her lawsuit she includes partial transcripts of what she says was that text exchange, and she provided screenshots of the apparent exchange to ABC News.

"Dude you groomed me," Jane Doe wrote. "Do you feel differently now about being a 32yo man hooking up with a 16yo girl? Cos I do"

Sanz, according to the text records, replied, "Of course. I've always felt terrible about that ... I didn't know what I was doing ... I never intended to groom you."

Later in the exchange, Jane Doe wrote, "Like it would at this point be irresponsible of me not to #metoo you."

"You can. It happened. I'm very sorry and that would suck but it's your story," Sanz replied, according to the records. Later in the exchange, he wrote, "I swear on a stack of improv books ... I'm a different person ... I was a depressed and miserable drunk ... After the Tracy party, I really tried to fix what I'd done."

Later, Jane Doe responded, "Masturbating and asking sexual questions and asking for photos isn't friendship -- especially jerking off without telling your 'friend.'"

Sanz replied, "I wasn't really thinking. But I really didn't do that with others. It was a f---ing big mistake. I'm very sorry. If you want to metoo me you have every right."

A year and a half later, Jane Doe filed her suit against Sanz and SNL. In November, Horatio Sanz and NBC settled the lawsuit with no admission of wrongdoing.

Jane Doe no longer dreams of being an SNL comedian and says she is happy with where her life is now. By telling her story, she wants to bring more awareness to child sex abuse victims.

"I hope that people who feel victimized might feel more empowered or emboldened or inspired in some way," she said. "And I hope that even if you're someone who can't come forward with your own case, maybe just hearing this by proxy will give you a little bit sense of empowerment."

ABC News' Hannah Prince contributed to this report.

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