Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears have been accused of child sexual abuse in a new lawsuit. First revealed in a report in The Daily Beast, two anonymous plaintiffs allege that the comedians recruited them to perform lewd acts of a sexual nature as part of a series of comedy sketches filmed in 2013. The accusers, referred to as John and Jane Doe, were seven and 14 years old at the time of the alleged incidents.
Haddish’s attorney, Andrew Brettler of Lavely & Singer, sent the following statement to IndieWire:
“Plaintiff’s mother…has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years. 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, [the mother] has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action.”
In the statement, Haddish’s attorney revealed the accusers’ mother’s last name, which IndieWire will not reveal. Representatives for Aries Spears did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.
According to The Daily Beast, the siblings’ mother negotiated a settlement in 2019, but that agreement allegedly does not bind Haddish or the siblings. The new lawsuit is brought not by the mother but by the John and Jane Doe.
Jane Doe told Daily Beast reporter Laura Bradley: “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.’”
Per the suit, Spears and Haddish are accused of intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of a minor. Haddish is further accused of negligent supervision/failure to warn, breach of fiduciary duty, and constructive fraud.
The two alleged victims are the children of one of Haddish’s former friends. The mother of the two siblings told The Daily Beast that she knew Haddish through the comedy scene, and the two women bonded over their shared experiences of difficult divorces. In 2013, Haddish informed the family that she had found a “perfect role” for their daughter, Jane Doe, in a commercial she was filming.
The lawsuit alleges that Haddish and Spears brought Jane into a recording booth and asked her to watch a video featuring a group of women eating a sandwich and “moaning and making sexual noises as they both ate the sandwich in a manner that simulated the act of fellatio.” Spears then allegedly asked the 14-year-old girl to mimic what she saw in the video. When this made Jane uncomfortable, she fell silent until Haddish returned to the room and reiterated the request.
“Haddish verbally explained what was expected of Plaintiff Jane Doe,” the lawsuit reads. “And then showed Plaintiff Jane Doe how to give fellatio, including movements, noises, moaning, and groaning.”
“I tried to mimic what they wanted me to mimic, but it still came out just super uncomfortable,” Jane said to The Daily Beast. “I knew when I left the booth that I didn’t complete what they wanted me to do.”
Jane was paid $100 for the shoot, according to The Daily Beast, and never spoke out about the experience. A year later, Haddish reached out to the mother about filming another video with her seven-year-old son. The two children were once again sent to a film shoot under the supervision of Haddish and Spears. The video in question ended up being a comedy sketch titled “Through a Pedophile’s Eyes.”
The Daily Beast viewed the sketch, which stars Haddish as the boy’s guardian who leaves him in the care of a pedophile played by Spears. The video is said to primarily feature the seven-year-old boy in his underwear or in the nude as Spears pretends to creepily stare at him. At one point the camera zooms in on John Doe’s crotch. The video ends with the text “WATCH WHO YOU LEAVE YOUR KIDS WITH!”
The lawsuit states that at the end of the shoot, “Mr. Doe called his mother crying, saying he did not want to film anymore.”
The video was posted on several online platforms, including the user-generated content section of FunnyOrDie.com. In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, a Funny or Die rep said that the site found the video “absolutely disgusting… 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.”
Jane Doe, who attended the shoot but was told to stay in the basement, told The Daily Beast that she recalled seeing her brother crying when filming was completed.
“When that happened, the only thing I could feel was how I felt in my video with Tiffany,” Jane said. “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 mother contacted Haddish when she saw her son’s reaction, but the comedian offered little information about the incident.
“[Haddish] said something to the effect of, ‘I don’t think acting is for him,’” she told the publication. “And I’m like… What the F you mean, ‘acting isn’t for him?’ My son is crying. Like, what is going on?”
The mother said she spent a week trying to obtain the footage from Spears and Haddish. She said she was never aware of what had been filmed until an article describing the lewd sketch was published on the gossip website Bossip four years later.
“To find out that she had violated such a sacred trust,” the mother said of Haddish. “I trusted her with my children.”
Christian Blauvelt contributed to this report.