[Note: This article contains descriptions of sexually suggestive material involving a minor.]
Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears face a new trial this week, The daily beast reports. Both comics were accused by “Jane Doe” and “John Doe”, two siblings who are now 22 and 14 respectively, of asking them to perform sexually suggestive acts for a pair of comedy sketches filmed there. 8 and 7 years ago, including one entitled “Through the eyes of a pedophile”. The lawsuit was filed for you (i.e. without an attorney) on Monday, and accuses Haddish and Spears of “intentionally inflicting emotional distress, gross neglect, sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse on a minor.” Haddish is also charged with “negligent supervision/failure to warn, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud.”
In the lawsuit, Jane Doe – now her younger brother’s legal guardian – describes the two sketches, for which the siblings were allegedly recruited due to a friendship between their mother and Haddish. In her own incident, Jane Doe describes (both in costume and in an interview with The daily beast), brought to a recording booth and shown a video of two students suggestively eating a sandwich on the subway, then asked to mimic the sounds and movements. here is the comics report, describing the costume:
“Haddish verbally explained what was expected of Applicant Jane Doe, then showed Applicant Jane Doe how to perform oral sex, including movements, noises, moans and moans.” The lawsuit describes Spears who allegedly watched as a “physically, emotionally and mentally uncomfortable” Jane received this instruction.
Jane says it was finally made her understand that she was not giving the desired performance; she was paid $100 and refused, at the time, to describe the incident to her mother.
A year later, Haddish reportedly approached the family again, saying he wanted to film a “Nickelodeon sizzle reel” for John. Instead, he ended up filming “Through A Pedophile’s Eyes” with Haddish and Spears, a video originally posted to Funny Or Die’s user-submitted section, and since deleted both there, and Spears’ YouTube account, in which the former mad tv The actor plays a pedophile ogling the then 7-year-old boy, who would spend most of the video in his underwear. Although Jane says she was present at Spears’ house on the day of filming, she said Haddish ordered her to stay downstairs while the sketch was filmed upstairs.
Here’s a description of the video from Daily Beast, which reviewed a recording of the video as part of its reporting:
During the sketch, the camera zooms in suggestively on the 7-year-old’s buttocks and crotch while he plays. Spears sprays baby oil onto the child’s back and massages it into his shoulders in one scene, and at another point the child plays with a train in a manner that suggests phallic masturbation. In another sequence, Spears smokes a cigarette while observing the child nude in a bathtub and pours water on his feet.
The lawsuit states that, after filming was done, “Mr. Doe called his mother crying, saying he did not want to film anymore.” Jane and John’s mother says she asked Spears to show her the footage that had been shot, but “Spears allegedly kept repeating that it had not yet been edited. Eventually, the lawsuit states that Spears claimed John had been so uncooperative that his footage had been deemed unusable and subsequently deleted.” (It’s not clear, from what we have access to, whether John’s footage was used in the eventually posted/now-deleted video, or whether another young actor ended up filming the scenes.) Meanwhile, Haddish allegedly told the mother “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t think acting is for him.’”
Both Jane and John have reportedly been in therapy since the incidents; the legal complaint includes a statement from John that the “Pedophile” sketch “fucked me up bad,” stating he now has a difficulty trusting adults, and a fear of being recorded.
The pair’s mother negotiated a settlement with Spears in 2019 over the video, but that agreement didn’t directly cover either Haddish—who reportedly declined to participate—or the siblings themselves, who are now pursuing their own legal approach. The lawsuit seeks “general and special damages, as well as ‘any appropriate statutory damages.’”
Spears reportedly hasn’t responded to requests for comments, but a lawyer for Haddish issued a statement this evening, asserting that “the plaintiff’s mother ‘has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years… Now, [the mother] to his adult daughter who is representing herself in this lawsuit. The two will face the consequences of continuing this frivolous action together. ‘”
If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual abuse, contact the RAINN National Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-656-4673.