NOTE: This article contains descriptions of a sexual nature that are disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.
Comedian Tiffany Haddish spoke out Monday about allegations that she and fellow comedian Aries Spears groomed and molested two children on camera for sexually explicit skits. The accusations came to light after the two siblings filed a lawsuit last week against the actors claiming that they had been “traumatized for life” by the incidents.
Haddish took to Instagram to address the lawsuit for the first time.
“I know people have a bunch of questions. 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,” Haddish wrote in the post.
Among other things, Haddish is accused in the lawsuit of coercing a then 14-year-old girl to mimic fellatio in a filmed sketch. Haddish acknowledged that she participated in the sexually explicit skit in her Instagram post.
“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,” she wrote. “I really look forward to being able to share a lot more about this situation as soon as I can.”
Haddish and Spears’ alleged victims were identified only as Jane Doe, now 22, and John Doe, now 14, in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Jane, as John’s legal guardian, filed the lawsuit against the comedians both individually and on behalf of her younger brother for incidents alleged to have occurred in 2013 and 2014. The claims have yet to be tested in court.
Haddish and Spears “stole the youth of a 7-year-old child and a 14-year-old child,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the lawsuit, Haddish and Spears met the children because their mother was friends with Haddish through the comedy circuit. The siblings claim they used to call Haddish “Auntie Tiff,” and she called them “niece” and “nephew.”
In 2013, Haddish allegedly asked Jane, then 14, to act in a skit with her after the comedian appeared as a guest speaker at the comedy summer camp that Jane was attending. Haddish told Jane she had the “perfect role” for her, the lawsuit reads.
“Only Spears and Haddish knew the storyline for the skit,” the lawsuit alleges. Jane claims that the shoot ended with her mimicking fellatio at Haddish’s instruction.
“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,” it said.
“Physically, emotionally, and mentally uncomfortable, plaintiff Jane Doe mimicked the acts that Haddish and Spears wanted her to do so she could go home,” the lawsuit continues.
The next year, Haddish allegedly offered a role to Jane’s younger brother, telling the siblings’ mother that it would be “a sizzle reel for Nickelodeon,” to help the boy get cast by the TV network, the suit says.
According to the suit, the skit was titled Through A Pedophile’s Eyes and involved a child, John, being left alone with a man, played by Spears, who “leers at the child lustfully.”
John, then seven, was allegedly stripped “down to his underwear” and Spears massaged oil on his body. Later in the shoot, the two supposedly got into a bathtub with Spears forcing the child “closer to him in the tub.”
In the final scene of the skit, John is “portrayed as leering lustfully” at Spears before rubbing oil on his body, the lawsuit claims. The video ends with text on the screen reading: “WATCH WHO YOU LEAVE YOUR KIDS WITH!”
“After filming, Mr. Doe called his mother crying, saying he did not want to film anymore,” the lawsuit said.
The plaintiffs’ mother claims she repeatedly asked Haddish and Spears about “what was filmed that made her son cry,” and Spears told her that he would get back to her about showing her footage. Days later, Spears told the plaintiffs’ mother that John had been uncooperative during the shoot and the footage was unusable and “deleted,” the lawsuit reads.
Four years later, in 2018, the plaintiffs’ mother learned that the allegedly deleted skit had been published online, including on the Funny or Die website.
“The mother, upset, stated that she would have never let her son participate in a pedophile, child pornography skit,” the lawsuit claimed.
“Funny Or Die found the video absolutely disgusting and would never produce such content,” a spokesperson for the website stated.
“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 removed in 2018 immediately after becoming aware of its existence.”
The lawsuit says that both Jane and John have developed social disorders as a result of the alleged abuse.
The lawsuit claims that Jane “is scared she will be taken advantage of again and led down a path of false trust like the path that Haddish led her down.” As for John, the lawsuit says he “stays in his room at home and places Band-Aids over the cameras on his electronics for fear of being watched or recorded.”
Lawyers for Haddish and Spears have individually dismissed the lawsuit, characterizing it as a shakedown. Andrew Brettler, Haddish’s lawyer, claimed that the plaintiffs’ mother has “been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years.”
The lawyer called the claims “meritless” and said that Haddish had previously shown she “would not be shaken down.”
“Now, (the plaintiffs’ mother) has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action,” Brettler said.
In a separate statement, Spears’ lawyer Debra Opri said the comedian “isn’t going to fall for any shakedown.”
Jane and John are suing Haddish and Spears for unspecified damages.