This story includes discussion of alleged sexual abuse involving minors
American comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears have been accused of reportedly sexually abusing a pair of siblings when they were children, with one of them – now an adult – filing a lawsuit against the comedians earlier this week; representatives for both Haddish and Spears have denied the accusations.
Neither sibling is named in the lawsuit – which as The Daily Beast reported, was filed on Monday (August 29) – detailing them as Jane and John Doe. It was reportedly filed by the former sibling (now aged 22), who is representing the case pro se for herself and her underaged brother (now 15). The filing alleges that Haddish and Spears recruited the children to perform inappropriate acts in video projects.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, the siblings’ mother claimed that she and Haddish had bonded over comedy and got “really, really super, super close” when the mother and her husband were going through a divorce. It’s said that Haddish became similarly close with the Doe children, who allegedly referred to them as her “niece” and nephew” while they called her “Auntie Tiff”.
According to the publication, the lawsuit describes an incident between Haddish and Jane sometime after the summer of 2013 – when it’s said that Jane was 14 years old – with Haddish allegedly recruiting Jane to star in a “commercial”. It’s said that Jane and her mother were unaware of what would be expected of the former until they’d been taken to a recording booth, where Haddish and Spears allegedly had her watch a video of two people eating a Subway sandwich in a suggestive manner.
The lawsuit reportedly claims that Jane was encouraged “to mimic what she had seen on the screen”, which included the aforementioned actors “moaning and making sexual noises as they both ate the sandwich in a manner that simulated the act of fellatio”. It’s said that Jane felt “nervous and disgusted” about the prospect, and remained quiet until Haddish came in to give her direction.
Per The Daily Beast, the lawsuit reportedly states that “Haddish verbally explained what was expected of [Jane] and then showed [Jane] how to give fellatio, including movements, noises, moaning, and groaning”. Jane is said to have felt “physically, emotionally, and mentally uncomfortable” while this occurred, with Spears alleged to have been looking on.
Speaking to the publication herself, Jane said of the alleged incident: “I tried to mimic what they wanted me to mimic, but it still came out just super uncomfortable. I knew when I left the booth that I didn’t complete what they wanted me to do.”
Jane was reportedly sent home after being paid $100 (£86) by Haddish, and, as she explained to The Daily Beast, kept her experience private: “I didn’t confide to my mom – I didn’t confide to nobody else about how weird I felt at that moment.”
According to the report, John Doe was embroiled in a similar situation the following year. It’s alleged that Haddish had recruited the boy – aged 7 at the time – to film what the family were told would be “a sizzle reel for Nickelodeon”, but was in fact a skit titled ‘Through A Pedophile’s Eyes’. It’s said that Haddish and Spears acted in the video – the former as John’s guardian and the latter as the titular pedophile, with whom Haddish’s character leaves John – which was shot at Spears’ house.
A reporter for The Daily Beast claims to have viewed the video (which appears to have been scrubbed from the web) and described multiple scenes of problematic imagery. It’s said that John “spends most of the video clad only in his underwear” and that Spears acts inappropriately in several scenes. In one, it’s said he “sprays baby oil onto the child’s back and massages it into his shoulders”, and in another, “smokes a cigarette while observing the child nude in a bathtub”.
The lawsuit reportedly states that once John had finished filming the video, he “called his mother crying, saying he did not want to film anymore”. Speaking to The Daily Beast, Jane (who was said to be present for the shoot) claimed that her brother was “red in the face, crying his eyes out, just bawling out in tears”.
She reportedly added: “When that happened, the only thing I could feel was how I felt in my video with Tiffany. I didn’t know at the time if anything happened with him like [what had] happened to me, but I just felt like something wasn’t right with that moment.”
It’s said that the Does’ mother was unaware of the nature of the content Haddish and Spears had shot with them, despite making several attempts to find out. Haddish was allegedly dismissive of the situation, while it’s claimed that Spears said John had “been so uncooperative that his footage had been deemed unusable and subsequently deleted”.
The mother was eventually tipped off to the content when the gossip site Bossip published an article detailing it. She told The Daily Beast: “All the trauma, all the memories, all the anxiety and depression and guilt and shame and fear – I feel like all of those emotions were triggered when this video situation came to a head. To find out that she had violated such a sacred trust – I trusted her with my children – that is what pushed me over the edge.”
The video was reportedly uploaded to online platforms such as Funny Or Die, a representative for whom shared the following statement with 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. It was uploaded to the site as user-generated content and was removed in 2018 immediately after becoming aware of its existence.”
The publication’s report goes on to detail the ongoing trauma that Jane and John Doe say they continue to live with. In her lawsuit, the former reportedly “feels constant remorse knowing that she was only a few feet away when Spears was molesting her 7-year-old little brother in the other room”.
“I don’t date guys. I don’t have sex. I’m not your regular 22-year-old who is partying, having fun and hooking up and stuff,” Jane said to The Daily Beast, noting that John allegedly covers up the cameras on his personal devices out of fear that he’s being spied on. It’s reportedly said in the lawsuit that Jane, who is now John’s legal guardian, has enrolled herself and her brother into therapy.
The lawsuit reportedly includes a written statement from John, who wrote: “I don’t trust nobody, I’m scared of adults, I refuse to be recorded or take pictures because I am scared of weird-ass adults trying to do nasty stuff to me again. I spend all of my time in my room and do not go anywhere because I don’t trust anybody.”
It’s said that the Does’ mother reached a settlement with Spears in 2019, however that reportedly does not apply to Haddish or the siblings themselves. The Daily Beast claims to have reviewed the settlement document, and notes that in it, Spears “denies the validity of the Claims” made in detailing how the video was filmed and released, but agreed “to stop the distribution, exhibition and further use of the Video”.
The publication also noted that the Does’ mother filed a police report against Spears and Haddish in January 2020, but saw nothing come of that.
It’s reported that the newly filed lawsuit formally accuses the two comedians of “intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of a minor”. Haddish is reportedly pegged with additional accusations of “negligent supervision/failure to warn, breach of fiduciary duty, and constructive fraud”. The lawsuit reportedly seeks general and special damages, plus “any appropriate statutory damages”.
Speaking on why she’d chosen now to file the suit, Jane told The Daily Beast: “As an adult, I have the power to protect my little brother now and have the power to do something about what happened to him. And that’s what my goal is to get done. Just to show my little brother that, hey, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to protect you and be there for you then. But this is how I’m showing up for you now.”
Neither Haddish nor Spears have responded publicly to the allegations made against them. In a statement given to The Los Angeles Times, however, an attorney for the latter said that Spears “isn’t going to fall for any shakedown”.
A legal rep for Haddish also claimed in a statement that the Does’ mother (whose identity was revealed in the statement, but will not be repeated by NME) “has been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years”.
The unnamed representative continued: “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. Now, [Jane Doe’s] mother has her adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action.”