A woman and her younger brother have levied accusations of grooming and coercion against comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears.
The pair, identified as Jane Doe and John Doe in their newly-filed lawsuit, claim Haddish and Spears forced them into filming sexually explicit acts for comedy sketches when they were minors. The woman was 14 years old and her little brother 7 years old when the alleged incidents took place. The Daily Beast, which was first to report on the lawsuit on Thursday, notes the female victim is now 22 years old, and her sibling is 14.
In the bombshell court filing, the pair claim their mother knew Haddish when they were children, and they were close enough to call the star “Auntie Tiff.” They were also apparently familiar with Spears while growing up.
In 2013, Haddish appeared as a guest speaker at a summer camp Jane attended. At the event, the Girls Trip star told the then-14-year-old girl she had the “perfect role” for her in a comedy scene. The girl wasn’t told what the skit was about until she showed up on set later that year. Once there, the girl was allegedly shown a video where an older man and a college-aged woman were arguing over a sub sandwich. The two actors on screen eventually started to eat the sandwich “simultaneously from either end,” and made “sexual noises as they both ate the sandwich in a manner that simulated the act of fellatio,” according to the lawsuit.
The court complaint claimed Spears then told Jane “to mimic what she had seen on the screen, including the noises.” The lawsuit states the 14-year-old girl was “nervous and disgusted” over the request, and added:
“Haddish verbally explained what was expected of Plaintiff Jane Doe and then showed Plaintiff Jane Doe how to give fellatio, including movements, noises, moaning, and groaning.”
In an accompanying interview with the Daily Beast, Jane stated Spears and Haddish looked on as she tried to do that:
“At that point, I knew a hundred percent what they wanted out of me. I tried to mimic what they wanted me to mimic, but it still came out just super uncomfortable. I knew when I left the booth that I didn’t complete what they wanted me to do.”
The lawsuit alleged the Night School star paid Jane $100 for the day and sent her home “physically, emotionally, and mentally uncomfortable.” Jane recalled to the outlet how she never told her mother of the incident after it happened:
“I didn’t confide to my mom — I didn’t confide to nobody else about how weird I felt at that moment.”
A year later, in 2014, Haddish allegedly approached the kids’ mother with a pitch for Jane’s then-7-year-old brother. The comedian allegedly told the family the young boy would be filming a sizzle reel for a Nickelodeon show. However, the boy ended up starring in a video posted on Funny or Die called, “Through a Pedophile’s Eyes.”
For the clip, the lawsuit claimed Jane went to chaperone her little brother without their mother present. Once on set, the two children were told they needed to be “separate” for filming. John was then allegedly stripped down to his underwear for the skit. The video starred Spears as a man who “leered at the child lustfully” and massaged him with baby oil in unsettling ways as the camera panned suggestively toward the child’s private areas. At one point, Spears and the young boy got into a bathtub together, with the comedian allegedly forcing the child to get “closer to him in the tub” to film the scene.
The lawsuit alleged the video ended with these words abruptly on screen:
“WATCH WHO YOU LEAVE YOUR KIDS WITH!”
The young boy was distraught immediately after filming, per the suit:
“After filming, Mr. Doe called his mother crying, saying he did not want to film anymore.”
In her interview this week with the news outlet, Jane recalled that moment, too:
“He was red in the face, crying his eyes out, just bawling out in tears. And I’m immediately scared, because I don’t know what happened to him. When that happened, the only thing I could feel was how I felt in my video with Tiffany. I didn’t know at the time if anything happened with him like [what had] happened to me, but I just felt like something wasn’t right with that moment.”
The pair’s mother also spoke to the Daily Beast, and recalled receiving an erratic phone call from her young son on set. When she queried the Like A Boss star about the skit, the comedian allegedly dismissed the worry:
“[Haddish] said something to the effect of, ‘I don’t think acting is for him.’ And I’m like… What the F you mean, acting isn’t for him? My son is crying. Like, what is going on?”
For the next week, the mother allegedly pestered Spears about seeing the footage of her son. The Mad TV alum allegedly told her it hadn’t been edited yet, and was unavailable. Eventually, he allegedly told her the footage was deleted because the boy had been “so uncooperative” on set.
However, four years later in June 2018, the mother learned the skit had actually been uploaded to the Funny or Die website. The lawsuit alleged:
“The mother, upset, stated that she would have never let her son participate in a pedophile child pornography skit.”
In a statement to TMZ, Funny or Die claims they had “no involvement” in creating or producing the self-uploaded video. The site says they immediately deleted it later in 2018 after being directed to the content:
“Funny Or Die found this video absolutely disgusting and would never produce such content. We were not involved with the conceptualization, development, funding, or production of this video. It was uploaded to the site as user-generated content and was removed in 2018 immediately after becoming aware of its existence.”
Now, Jane Doe and John Doe are both suing Haddish and Spears for damages. They claim they are unable to “trust anyone” in the years since the incidents. John claims he suffers from depression and anxiety, as well.
Per the Daily Beast, the suit alleges eight causes of action. Both comedians are being accused of intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual harassment, sexual abuse of a minor, and sexual battery. Haddish alone is also accused of negligent supervision/failure to warn, breach of fiduciary duty, and constructive fraud.
Heartbreakingly, Jane told the news outlet about her current-day issues along with the guilt she feels for seeing her little brother go through his own traumatic situation:
“I don’t date guys. I don’t have sex. I’m not your regular 22-year-old who is partying, having fun and hooking up and stuff.”
The now-teenager John didn’t speak to the news org about the lawsuit, but he did write out a statement recently as part of his therapy to work through the issue. In that statement, the teen wrote the skit “f**ked me up bad,” and added:
“I don’t got no friends. I don’t trust nobody, I’m scared of adults, I refuse to be recorded or take pictures because I am scared of weird-ass adults trying to do nasty stuff to me again. I spend all of my time in my room and do not go anywhere because I don’t trust anybody. … I know now that they are f**ked up for what they did to me, and none of this is my fault.”
Now, Jane serves as John’s legal guardian. The siblings’ mother negotiated her own settlement on the matter in 2019, the lawsuit stated, but that settlement reportedly doesn’t bind Haddish or the children, per the outlet. Jane said she filed suit this week to stand up for her brother:
“As an adult, I have the power to protect my little brother now and have the power to do something about what happened to him. And that’s what my goal is to get done. Just to show my little brother that, hey, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to protect you and be there for you then. But this is how I’m showing up for you now.”
As for Haddish and Spears, attorneys for both comedians have dismissed the allegations levied in the lawsuit.
Spears’ attorney Debra Opri simply said the comedian “isn’t going to fall for any shakedown.” Haddish’s attorney Andrew Brettler called the allegations “meritless,” and also said the star “would not be shaken down.” Brettler added:
“[The children’s mother] has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years. Now, she has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action.”
You can read the full Daily Beast piece HERE. Reactions, Perezcious readers?
[Image via MEGA/Johnny Louis/WENN]