[Note: This article contains descriptions of sexually suggestive material involving a minor.]
Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears are the subject of a new lawsuit this week, The everyday beast reports. The two comics have been 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 skits that happened 8 and 7 years ago. were filmed, including one titled “Through the Eyes of a Pedophile.” The lawsuit has been filed pro se (ie without legal advice) on Monday, accusing Haddish and Spears of “deliberately inflicting emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of 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 both sketches, for which the siblings are said to have been recruited because of a friendship between their mother and Haddish. In her own incident, Jane Doe (both in the suit and in an interview with The everyday beast), was taken to a recording booth and shown a video of two students suggestively eating a subway sandwich, and were then asked to mimic the sounds and movements. Here is the DB report, describing the suit:
“Haddish verbally explained what was expected of Plaintiff Jane Doe and then showed Plaintiff Jane Doe how to give fellatio, including movements, sounds, moans and moans.” The lawsuit states that Spears would watch as a “physically, emotionally and mentally uneasy” Jane received this instruction.
Jane says it was finally made it clear to her that she was not delivering the desired performance; she was paid $100 and at the time refused to describe the incident to her mother.
A year later, Haddish allegedly approached the family again, claiming 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 in the user-submitted section of Funny Or Die, and since then away from both there, and Spears’ YouTube account, in which the former MadTV actor plays a pedophile who lurks at the then 7-year-old boy, who reportedly spends most of the video in his underwear. Although Jane says she was present at Spears’ house on the day of the shooting, she said Haddish instructed her to stay downstairs while the sketch was being filmed upstairs.
Here is a description of the video of Daily Beastwho reviewed a recording of the video as part of his reporting:
During the sketch, the camera suggestively zooms in on the 7-year-old’s buttocks and crotch as he plays. Spears sprays baby oil on the child’s back and massages it into his shoulders in one scene, and in another the child plays with a train in a way that suggests phallic masturbation. In another series, Spears smokes a cigarette while observing the child naked in a bathtub and pouring water over his feet.
The lawsuit states that after filming was done, “Mr. Doe called his mother crying and said he didn’t want to film anymore.” Jane and John’s mother says she asked Spears to show her the recorded footage, but “Spears would keep repeating that it had not yet been edited. Ultimately, the lawsuit alleges that Spears alleged that John was uncooperative that his footage was was deemed unusable and subsequently removed (It is not clear from where we have access to, whether John’s footage was used in the eventually posted/now deleted video, or that another young actor filmed the scenes.) Meanwhile, Haddish reportedly told the mother “something along the lines of, ‘I don’t think acting is for him.”
Both Jane and John reportedly have been in therapy since the incidents; the legal complaint includes a statement from John that the “pedophiles” sketch “made me bad”, stating that he is now a difficulty in trusting adults, and a fear of being raped.
The couple’s mother negotiated a settlement with Spears over the video in 2019, but that agreement didn’t directly relate to Haddish – who reportedly refused to participate – or the siblings themselves, who are now taking their own legal approach. The lawsuit seeks “general and special damages, as well as ‘any appropriate statutory damages’.”
spears has reportedly not responded to requests for comment, but a lawyer for Haddish issued a statement tonight saying that “the plaintiff’s mother ‘has been trying to assert these false claims against Ms. Haddish for several years… Now, [the mother] let her adult daughter represent herself in this lawsuit. Together, the two will face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action.’”
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse, please contact the RAINN National Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.