Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears have been accused of child sexual abuse in a new lawsuit that claims the comedians forced minors to perform sexually suggestive acts for sketch videos.
As The Daily Beast reports, a Jane Doe has filed the suit on behalf of herself and her younger brother. In the suit, Jane, now 22, and her brother, now 14, recount their mother making friends with Haddish through mutual comedy circles and Haddish presenting the children with work opportunities. However, the videos the children recorded with the comedians were inappropriate.
In the summer of 2013, when Jane was 14, Haddish allegedly enlisted the child to record a commercial that Spears was producing. When she got to the shoot, Haddish and Spears showed her a video of kids eating a sub sandwich in a suggestive manner — “moaning and making sexual noises as they both ate the sandwich in a manner that simulated the act of fellatio,” the lawsuit says — and then asked her to recreate the noises.
“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,” the lawsuit states. Jane told The Daily Beast, “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,” Jane said. “I knew when I left the booth that I didn’t complete what they wanted me to do.” The lawsuit states Haddish paid Jane $100 for her work and then sent her home.
In 2014, Haddish recruited John for a video of his own. This time, the video was shot at Spears’ home, and while both children attended the shoot, Jane says Haddish told her to stay downstairs while John and Spears recorded the clip upstairs. “It was like a whole 180 almost,” she told The Daily Beast. “Tiffany had never been mean to me — never raised her voice to me — until this point.”
In the video, Haddish plays John’s guardian while Spears plays a pedophile. Spears leers at the child, who only wears underwear, while the camera zooms in on his buttocks and crotch. In one scene, Spears massages baby oil into John’s back, and in another, the child plays with a train in a way that suggests masturbation. When John came downstairs, he called his mother crying. When the mother then inquired about what went on doing the shoot, Spears refused to show her footage of the video.
Jane Doe’s lawsuit claims John’s clip was posted to websites like Funny Or Die under the title Through a Pedophile’s Eyes. In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, a Funny Or Die representative confirmed the existence of the video but said it was posted to the site by a user, arguing that the company would never air such a video. “Funny Or Die found this video absolutely disgusting and would never produce such content,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
Update — 9/2: Haddish and Spears have both responded to the suit through their representatives. “Plaintiff’s mother, Trizah Morris, has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years,” Haddish’s attorney said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. “Every attorney who has initially taken on her case — and there were several — ultimately dropped the matter once it became clear that the claims were meritless and Ms. Haddish would not be shaken down.
“Now, Ms. Morris has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action.”
An attorney for Spears added, “He isn’t going to fall for any shakedown.”
Jane Doe, John Doe, and their mother claim to have suffered severe trauma from their experiences with Haddish and Spears. Their lawsuit accuses both comedians of intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of a minor, while Haddish is also accused of negligent supervision/failure to warn, breach of fiduciary duty, and constructive fraud. The lawsuit seeks general and special damages, as well as “any appropriate statutory damages.”
Read The Daily Beast’s full report on the accusations against Haddish and Spears here.