Just a week after accusations concerning sexual assault arose regarding Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback is being accused of allegedly assaulting over 30 women. In a piece from Glen Whipp published in the L.A. Times, women spoke on-and-off the record regarding incidents with Toback.
Toback would start by introducing himself as a director, asking them if they’d seen, “Black and White” or “Two Girls and a Guy?” When the women didn’t recognize him, he’d start by dropping names, saying Robert Downey Jr. was a close friend. Eventually the women trusted him enough and that’s when he attacked.
After someone mentions they were sexually abused by a creepy writer-director, the response is, ‘Oh, no. You got Toback-ed.’
Women recounted similar encounters they had with Toback, with 31 of the 38 interviewed going on record to speak up. He’d set up auditions and interviews with them for jobs that may or may not have existed. During the meetings, he would tell them about his sexual conquests, following up with personal questions. The women felt invaded when Toback asked questions such as, “How often do you masturbate? How much pubic hair do you have?” Finally, he’d dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them, ejaculating onto them or his pants.
Of the 38 women, not one contacted the police.
When Toback was contacted by the Times, he denied the allegations, saying that he did not recall any of the women he was asked about. Citing his diabetes and heart condition that required him to take medication, he went on to explain that it was “biologically impossible” to even engage the women in such crude manner.
Toback’s behavior, much like Weinstein’s, was sort of an open secret in Hollywood. Spy Magazine along with Gawker had both reported on his actions before. He had titled his semi-autobiographical movie, “The Pick-up Artist.”
Lousie Post, one of the women who spoke, said in her story, “He told me he’d love nothing more than to masturbate while looking into my eyes.” To Post- now a guitarist and vocalist for the indie rock band Veruca Sault- this had been a, “source of shame for the past 30 years.”
— Veruca Salt (@verucasalt) October 16, 2017
Another woman, Karen Sklaire, now a New York drama teacher, actor and playwright said that Toback’s behavior was well-known. “After someone mentions they were sexually abused by a creepy writer-director, the response is, ‘Oh, no. You got Toback-ed,’” said Sklaire, “The numbers are staggering.”
Sklaire made her own statement on twitter as well, using the hashtag “MeToo” and tagging Toback before the Times article came out.
— Karen Sklaire (@KarenSklaire) October 19, 2017
At this time, the backlash for Toback’s actions has yet to reach the levels of Weinstein’s. However, Whipp is reporting that since the publication of his original article, “193 additional women have contacted [him] to talk about Toback.” At this time, Toback is still active in the film industry. However, Toback’s longtime agent, Jeff Berg, is no longer representing him. What happens next for Toback is still unknown.
Update: Vanity Fair has released an article where Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair share their stories of James Toback’s sexual harassment.