Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears are facing a lawsuit accusing them of grooming and molesting children. However, the defense lawyer for Spears dismisses the allegations as a "shakedown."
The lawsuit against the comedians was filed on Tuesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court by a 22-year-old woman only identified as "Jane Doe." The lawsuit was also filed on behalf of her brother, identified as "John Doe." The lawsuit accuses Haddish and Spears of intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of a minor.
The lawsuit claims that the mother of the alleged victims was a "longtime family friend" of Haddish. According to the filing, Jane Doe met Haddish in 2013 at a summer camp where the comedic actress was a guest speaker. Haddish told Doe – who was 14 at the time – that she had the "perfect role" for her.
Haddish, 42, allegedly got permission from the mother to use the children to film a video. The filing states that the children were making a satirical Subway sandwich commercial that was "sexually suggestive." Haddish and Spears instructed the siblings to start “moaning and making sexual noises as they both ate the sandwich in a manner that simulated the act of fellatio” from opposite sides of the sub, according to the Daily Beast.
In the summer of 2014, Haddish purportedly asked the mother if her children would want to star in a video. The lawsuit claims that Haddish told the mother that the video would be an audition reel to get the children on Nickelodeon.
Haddish took the children to Spears' home, according to the filing. In the skit, Haddish allegedly played the boy’s guardian who left the child with Spears — who portrayed a pedophile, according to the filing.
The lawsuit states, "The video was entitled 'Through A Pedophiles Eyes' and shows Spears lusting over the 7-year-old child and molesting him throughout the video. Haddish was present during the filming of the entire video and aided, abetted, and watched Spears sexually molest a child."
People magazine reported the lawsuit "said John was later stripped 'down to his underwear' for a skit titled 'Through A Pedophiles Eyes' about a child being left with a man, played by Spears, who 'leers at the child lustfully' in multiple scenes before massaging John with oil and later, getting into a bathtub with him and forcing the child 'closer to him in the tub.'"
The filing claims the video ends with the words: "WATCH WHO YOU LEAVE YOUR KIDS WITH!"
John Doe claims that the comedians gave him a drink that made him sleepy and some "happy face candy." He says that Haddish paid him and his sister $100.
The mother allegedly asked Haddish and Spears what was filmed that "made her son cry."
The lawsuit alleges that Spears, 47, told the mother that the video was not edited yet. Haddish reportedly told the mother that she didn't have a copy of the video, but assured her it was meant to be a funny skit.
At the time, the sexually explicit skit with the children was uploaded to several video-hosting websites, including the Funny or Die website.
In June 2018, the mother reportedly discovered the video of her children online.
The filing notes, "The mother, upset, stated that she would have never let her son participate in a pedophile child pornography skit."
"The plaintiffs were both minors and were incapable of consenting to participate in sexually graphic videos distributed and published via 'Funny or Die's' platform," the lawsuit states. "There was no parent or guardian present."
A spokesperson for Funny or Die told the Daily Beast, "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 representative added. "It was uploaded to the site as user-generated content and was removed in 2018 immediately after becoming aware of its existence.”
The lawsuit claims that both Jane and John have developed social disorders. Jane allegedly doesn't "trust anyone." The lawsuit claims that John suffers from "depression and anxiety," and he "stays in his room at home and places band-aids over the cameras on his electronics for fear of being watched or recorded."
Jane Doe claims that her traumatic memory was "unlocked" when "Haddish performed a similar scene" in the 2017 comedic movie "Girls Trip," which made her "[realize] the severity of what happened to her," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states, "The plaintiffs are both traumatized for life. Similar to the manner in which Giselle (sic) Maxwell groomed young girls for Jeffrey Epstein, upon information and belief, Haddish made plaintiff Jane Doe feel comfortable and special, but this was all a grooming tactic by Haddish to entice and coerce both children into filming sexually explicit child pornography skits."
USA Today reported, "According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs' mother previously attempted to work out a $15,000 settlement with Spears over the video of John Doe but was unsuccessful due to her 'mental state' and a few missteps in the legal process."
The lawsuit does not specify how much in monetary damages the plaintiffs are seeking.
Attorneys for Haddish and Spears have dismissed the lawsuit as a "shakedown."
Spears' attorney, Debra Opri, responded to the lawsuit, "He isn’t going to fall for any shakedown."
Haddish's lawyer, Andrew Brettler, refuted the accusations as "bogus" and "meritless."
"Plaintiff's mother … has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years," Brettler declared. "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, "Now, Ms. Morris has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action."