Tiffany Haddish is breaking her silence about a lawsuit that accuses her and fellow comedian Aries Spears of sexually abusing two children during the filming of a couple of comedy sketches.
“I know people have a bunch of questions. I get it,” Haddish wrote in an Instagram post on Monday. “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 lawsuit accuses Haddish and Spears of grooming and molesting two minor siblings, Jane and John Doe, and leaving them “traumatized for life.” The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Aug. 30.
Jane Doe is now 22 and lives in the Nevada. She is the guardian of John Doe.
The lawsuit focuses on two incidents: one involving Jane Doe and Haddish in 2013, and the other John Doe and Aries Spears in 2014.
In the complaint, the actress is described as a “longtime family friend of [the alleged victims'] mother,” called “Aunty Tiff,” who frequently came to their home to pick up their mother for comedy shows.
“Haddish brought 14-year-old Plaintiff Jane Doe to a Hollywood studio to film a sexually suggestive ... commercial,” according to the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Oxygen.com. They were paid $100.
“In the summer of 2013, Haddish solicited plaintiff Jane Doe … to engage in the production of a sexually suggestive video. Until this point, Haddish was a role model to this 14-year-old victim,” according to the complaint. “Upon information and belief, Haddish groomed the child victim, gained her trust, and created a false sense of security. Haddish stated that this was her way of helping the child victim get on television and that the video could be added to the child’s film reel.”
In that particular video, the complaint alleges Haddish's character tried to teach the victim how to perform oral sex using a sub sandwich.
The second video was shot at Spears' home, according to the lawsuit, which alleges Spears "molested Mr. Doe on film." That sketch, titled "Through a Pedophile's Eyes," featured the then-7-year-old victim appearing in his underwear. It was was uploaded and published to the website “Funny or Die” in 2014, but was removed several years later, according to the lawsuit. The family was not aware that it was published online until 2018.
A spokesperson for “Funny or Die said in a statement that the website "found this video absolutely disgusting and would never produce such content, NBC News reported.
"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 spokesperson added.
The children’s mother also suffered mental anguish and even had several suicidal episodes after learning of the videos, the complaint states.
“In the days, weeks, and months after plaintiff’s mother found out about the molestation of her son, plaintiff’s mother went through turmoil. Plaintiff’s mother lost her job and her sanity. She broke out into hives constantly, her hair began to fall out, and she began binge eating followed by purging, also known as bulimia.”
In July of 2018, John Doe’s mother reached a settlement with Spears, which included a $15,000 payment. Haddish was not involved in the settlement agreement. The lawsuit states that the agreement is “invalid” because John and Jane Doe were minors when it was signed and was never approved by the court.
Attorneys for both Haddish and Spears accused the Does of making a money grab.
An attorney for Spears said in a statement that he “isn’t going to fall for any shakedown,” according to multiple media reports.
Haddish’s attorney, Andrew Brettler, said in a statement that the comedian “would not be shaken down.” He called the allegations “meritless,” and the lawsuit a “frivolous action.”
He said that the mother had “been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years.”
Jane Doe dismissed his comments as a diversion tactic and said she and her brother "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," NBC News reported.
The lawsuit seeks past, present and future general damages.
In a petition on change.org, Jane Doe asks for support in getting Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon and the police department to arrest and prosecute Haddish and Spears.