AJ McLean is standing firm with his Backstreet bro, saying there is no way Nick Carter raped anyone ... and although he generally supports accusers ... he just can't in Nick's case.
We got AJ at LAX Monday and he insisted Dream singer Melissa Schuman's claim Nick raped her in 2002 had to be bogus. Others have defended Carter, like his "Dancing with the Stars" partner, Sharna Burgess.
But, AJ has a long history with Nick -- back to their pre-teen days -- and says his groupmate just isn't that kinda guy.
What's interesting here is AJ walking the line. You can see he wants to come out strong for Nick, but he's also wary of victim shaming, and even applauds women for coming forward. Well, most anyway.