Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears have been accused in a new lawsuit of forcing a sister and her younger brother to perform in sexually suggestive comedy skits when they were minors, resulting in them being "traumatized for life."
A 22-year-old anonymous plaintiff identified as Jane Doe in court documents filed a lawsuit Aug. 30 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of herself and her younger brother, who is a minor. Jane Doe is John Doe's legal guardian, according to the documents.
The lawsuit accuses the "Girls Trip" star and Spears, a former "MADtv" star, of intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of a minor. Haddish is also accused of negligent supervision/failure to warn, breach of fiduciary duty, and constructive fraud.
The plaintiffs are seeking "any appropriate punitive or exemplary damages" as well as "any appropriate statutory damages" and "further relief as the court may deem proper," according to court documents.
The lawsuit was first reported by The Daily Beast.
Attorneys for Spears and Haddish both issued responses to NBC News regarding the lawsuit.
"He isn't going to fall for any shakedown," Debra Opri, the attorney for Spears, said in a statement.
“Plaintiff’s mother ... has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years," Haddish's attorney, Andrew Brettler, said in a statement. "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.”
Brettler added that the plaintiffs' mother now "has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit" and that the plaintiffs "will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action." The plaintiffs' mother has not commented publicly on these allegations against her, though The Daily Beast reports that she filed a police report against Haddish and Spears in January 2020 but nothing came of it.
In response to the statement by Haddish’s attorney, Jane Doe told NBC News: “We are not surprised that Mr. Brettler would attempt to divert the attention away from the legitimate claims filed by my brother and me, to shift the blame and attention to our mother who is not a party to this lawsuit.”
On Sept. 5, Haddish posted a statement about the lawsuit on her Instagram.
"I know people have a bunch of questions," she began. "I get it. I'm right there with you. Unfortunately, because there is an ongoing legal case, there's very little that I can say right now."
She continued, "But, clearly, while the sketch was intended to be comedic, it wasn't funny at all---and I deeply regret having agreed to act in it. I really look forward to being able to share a lot more about this situation as soon as I can."
The post does not allow comments.
The plaintiffs said in court documents they knew Haddish as a longtime family friend of their mother and that she brought Jane Doe to a Hollywood studio when she was 14 to "film a sexually suggestive" sandwich commercial for a video uploaded to the "Funny or Die" website in 2014.
Jane Doe was recruited by Haddish from a comedy camp in 2013 to perform in a comedy skit in which she was not told what the plot would be beforehand, the lawsuit states.
She was then shown a video of a man and a woman eating a sandwich from either end and "moaning and making sexual noises as they both ate the sandwich in a manner that simulated the act of fellatio," according to the lawsuit.
Jane Doe was then told by Spears to mimic what she saw in the video, which left the 14-year-old "nervous and disgusted" before Haddish came into the room and "showed Plaintiff Jane Doe how to give fellatio, including movements, noises, moaning, and groaning," per the lawsuit. Doe mimicked the act and was paid $100 before being sent home, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that Spears and Haddish used Jane Doe's younger brother, identified as John Doe, in a video called "Through a Pedophile's Eyes" filmed at Spears' home in 2014 when John Doe was 7 years old.
The plaintiffs said in court documents that the boy was told the video was going to be part of a film reel for a kids video, but instead he was stripped down to his underwear for a skit featuring Spears, playing a pedophile, as he "leers at the child lustfully."
Haddish is first featured in the video "holding Mr. Doe in his underwear, grasping the child's buttocks like a maternal figure" and then leaves Spears to "watch the child," the lawsuit states.
Spears then looks through holes in a newspaper while the camera focuses in on the child's buttocks and crotch, according to the lawsuit, which includes screenshots from the alleged video. Spears is then shown squirting baby oil on the child's shoulders and massaging them, per the lawsuit.
Spears is again shown peering through the holes in the newspaper at the child, who is now nude playing with toys in a bathtub, according to the lawsuit. The video ends with, "WATCH WHO YOU LEAVE YOUR KIDS WITH!"
The video was uploaded to "Funny or Die" as user-generated content and removed in 2018, a spokesman for the site told NBC News.
"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," the spokesperson said.
The plaintiffs' mother contacted Spears about the footage, and he told her that it was unusable and "deleted" because John Doe was so uncooperative during the filming, per the lawsuit. When a gossip website claimed in 2018 that Spears had filmed a video called "Mind of a Pedophile" that he had told the plaintiffs' mother he had deleted, she contacted him and he was "unapologetic and even made light of the video," according to the lawsuit.
The boy's sister, Jane Doe, said she was present in the house at the time the alleged "Mind of a Pedophile" video was filmed and now feels "constant remorse" about it, the lawsuit states.
"Plaintiff Jane Doe is 22 years of age now and has never dated," the lawsuit reads. "She is scared that she will be taken advantage of again and led down a path of false trust like the path that Haddish led her down."
The lawsuit states that John Doe has "a social disorder, depression, and anxiety," as a result of the alleged video. He stays in his room at home and "places band-aids over the cameras on his electronics for fear of being watched or recorded," according to the lawsuit.
"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-a-- adults trying to do nasty stuff to me again," John Doe wrote in a statement while in therapy, per the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also details the effects on the plaintiffs' mother after learning about the alleged skits, saying she "lost her job and her sanity" and "broke out into hives constantly, her hair began to fall out, and she began binge eating followed by purging."
The plaintiffs' mother negotiated a settlement with Spears in 2018, but it has "no binding legal effect on Haddish or the two minor children," according to the lawsuit.