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More than 30 women have come forward to accuse director James Toback of sexual harassment in the latest bombshell set of accusations by women who have faced abuse by prominent Hollywood men.
The Los Angeles Times reported the claims by the 38 women in a story released Sunday morning.
Toback, who helmed the films Black and White (1999) and Two Girls and a Guy (1998) and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the Warren Beatty film Bugsy (1991), used his status as a director to lure the women into auditions, meetings and interviews that would quickly turn sexual, according to the report.
Toback, 72, denied the allegations by the women, 31 of 38 of whom went on the record with their accusations to the Times, saying that he had never met any of these women, and if he had, “it was for five minutes.” He also claimed it was “biologically impossible” for him to engage in the behavior described, saying he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication.
Many of the women’s accounts describe similar circumstances, with Toback luring a young or aspiring actress into a meeting and then proceeding to use very graphic sexual language under the guise of describing a role or film before engaging in some sort of masturbation.
“The way he presented it, it was like, ‘This is how things are done,'” actress Adrienne LaValley told the Times. Her 2008 hotel room encounter ended with Toback trying to rub his crotch against her leg, and when she recoiled, he stood up and ejaculated in his pants. “I felt like a prostitute, an utter disappointment to myself, my parents, my friends. And I deserved not to tell anyone.”
Many of the women who came forward in the story said the recent accusations against Harvey Weinstein brought memories of their past experiences with Toback back to the surface.
“It’s a common thread among many women I know … after someone mentions they were sexually abused by a creepy writer-director, the response is, ‘Oh, no. You got Toback-ed,'” New York drama teacher, actor and playwright Karen Sklaire told the Times. Sklaire said her 1997 meeting with Toback ended with him grinding against her leg in an office. “The numbers are staggering.”
Toback’s first notable film was 1987’s The Pick-up Artist, starring Robert Downey Jr., who would go on to star in two other films written and directed by Toback. His most recent film, The Private Life of a Modern Woman, starring Sienna Miller, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September.
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